Newbie volunteers deface sea turtle
BACOLOD CITY—Members of a group of volunteers guarding against poaching in the seas have learned a valuable lesson on handling green sea turtles—don’t paint on their carapace.
Bantay Dagat (sea watch) volunteers in Silay City, Negros Occidental, were reprimanded for marking the carapace of a sea turtle with paint instead of tagging the animal. The sea turtle was rescued by a fisherman.
Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya, community environment and natural resources officer, said the volunteers would be required to attend an orientation seminar on the Wildlife Conservation Act after they had been reprimanded.
The green sea turtle, locally known as pawikan, was spotted by fisherman Rodrigo Giguera in the waters off Barangay Balaring in Silay City around 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
It was 33 inches long and 25 inches wide, Gerangaya said.
The fisherman turned the turtle over to the Bantay Dagat members who were apparently new volunteers, Gerangaya said.
Gerangaya said the men were apparently unaware of standard operating procedure in handling endangered animals.
The volunteers, said Gerangaya, should have turned over the animal to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources which would attach a metal tag on the turtle’s flipper.
The tag would help scientists track the turtle’s migration pattern, Gerangaya said.
But the volunteers did not have a metal tag so they instead painted the words “Silay Bantay Dagat” on the turtle’s carapace in yellow.
Gerangaya said what the volunteers did is considered as a form of maltreatment, a violation of the Wildlife Conservation Act.
The volunteers, however, were just reprimanded because they meant the turtle no harm and released the animal back to the sea shortly after getting it from the fisherman.
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