LAOAG CITY – The coastal town of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte has become the friendliest beach for sea turtles in the northern Philippines as more baby “pawikans” are being released into the open sea early this year. On Sunday morning, a group of pawikan conservation volunteers in Pagudpud helped release 13 vulnerable green sea turtle hatchlings as they swam through dappled sunlight in the ocean shallows after hatching on a makeshift hatchery in Barangay Saud. Raymond Sesuca, one of the volunteers of the Pagudpud Pawikan Conservation Group, said the 13 newly hatched baby pawikans emerged from the second nest which they have been guarding and monitoring for days since they relocated some 139 sea turtle eggs from the shoreline. “It’s now the 18th hatchling from the second nest of 139 eggs. One was released last Friday, four yesterday, and 13 today,” he said. The Saud marine turtle hatchery contains at least three nests. The first nest hatched last Feb. 4 with at least five successful releases while the two remaining are due anytime this week. The group said it needed to relocate the sea turtle eggs found along the Pagudpud shoreline last November and December as they were threatened when the tide rises and in the presence of predators such as crablets and dogs. On the same day, three marine sea turtles were also found in nearby Ayoyo village as these were accidentally netted by fishermen. The group, along with wildlife enforcement personnel, immediately responded in the area to facilitate the rescue and released them immediately.
It was learned that the cold months of December until February are the usual time for pawikan to return and lay eggs in the same area where they are hatched. To ensure the protection, maintenance, and sustainability of the established pawikan hatcheries in Pagudpud town, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in coordination with the barangay and municipal officials of Pagudpud led by mayor Rafael Ralph Benemerito II and the conservation group, will be meeting next week to formulate measures for the protection and conservation of marine sea turtles. Community Environment and Natural Resources officer Noemi Ruadap lauded on Sunday the efforts of the conservation volunteers as she urged everyone to do their share in protecting and conserving pawikans. (PNA)