TACURONG CITY – Environment officials in the Soccsksargen region have released back to their natural habitat two sea turtles rescued on separate occasions along the coast of Sarangani province.
In a statement Tuesday, Director Felix Alicer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Soccsksargen Region (DENR-12) said people around Sarangani Bay have been helping them preserve endangered species caught stranded and beached in the area’s coastlines.
On Monday, a female Olive Ridley sea turtle, was released back to the sea on the shores of Barangay Poblacion in Malapatan town after several days of rehabilitation.
The endangered turtle was found stranded on the coast of Malapatan weakened due to fishing hook ingestion. Residents turned over the sea turtle to Engr. Joey Coliao, the municipal environment and natural resources officer (MENRO) of Malapatan.
Workers of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS) brought the marine turtle to the Marine Wildlife Rescue Center in Malapatan where Dr. Roy Mejorada, the SBPS in-house veterinarian, conducted a surgical operation to remove the steel wire in the turtle's throat.
After the successful surgery, the rescued Olive Ridley, locally known as “pawikan,” was placed in a recovery area where it regained its appetite and vitality.
"We owe it to the quick response of our local partners and ‘Bantay Dagat’ that we were able to do a timely rescue and rehabilitation,” said SBPS protected area superintendent (PASu) Joy Ologuin.
On Jan. 10, environmentalists also released in Sarangani Bay a critically endangered female hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) after 74 days of recuperation at the Pawikan Rescue Center in Barangay Burias, Glan municipality.
Dr. Rosalinda Cortez, DENR – Glan community environment and natural resources officer (CENRO), said the stranded turtle was rescued by barangay officials along the shores of Barangay Big Margus at the height of Tropical Storm Paeng (Nalgae) on Oct. 28 last year.
Hawksbill sea turtles are categorized as critically endangered species.
Sarangani provincial environment officer Maria Elvira Lumayag has urged the people along the coast of Sarangani Bay to keep all beaches clean to allow the pawikans to lay eggs.
"During this turtle nesting season, we highly encourage our stakeholders, coastal communities, and local industries to keep our beaches clean to give ample space for the marine turtles to lay their eggs," she said.
Lumayag said Sarangani Bay is home to four species of marine turtles. (PNA)