83 baby turtles released in Tayabas Bay
LUCENA CITY––At least 83 Olive Ridley sea turtles or “pawikan” hatchlings were freed on Monday to their natural habitat in Tayabas Bay in Sariaya town, Quezon province.
“More than 500 hatchlings will also be released in batches in the following days,” Sherwin Rosales, fishery technician at the municipal government’s agriculture office, said in an online interview.
The baby turtles were released on the seashore of Barangay Bignay 2 around 9 a.m.
The staff from the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office from neighboring Tayabas City, village officials, and “bantay dagat” (fish wardens) witnessed the event.
The Sariaya coastline, host to many beach resorts and other tourist-oriented businesses, serves as a sanctuary to turtles that usually come to lay and hatch their eggs from October to December.
The hatchlings of different sea turtle species were cared for by fishermen, fish wardens, and the local government in four nesting sites in the villages of Castañas, San Roque, Guisguis, and Bignay 2.
Once a marine habitat ruined by destructive fishing practices, Tayabas Bay is now a sanctuary for endangered sea turtles after local officials and businessmen initiated a program to rehabilitate the bay and launched the “Save the Endangered Species Campaign” in 2003.
Since then, the fishermen and coastal villagers have become aware of the law prohibiting possession and killing of endangered marine species.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 consider the “pawikan” as an endangered species.
Tayabas Bay stretches from San Juan town in Batangas province to Sariaya, Pagbilao, Padre Burgos, Agdangan, Unisan, Pitogo, Macalelon, General Luna, Catanauan, Mulanay, and San Francisco towns, and Lucena City in Quezon.