The new year begins swimmingly well for some of our marine ecosystem as sea turtle hatchlings were released into the waters this January.
Following the laying of eggs of an Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) on Nov. 5 last year on the beachfront of premier Mövenpick Resort and Spa in Boracay, a total of 66 hatchlings have finally emerged from their nest on Jan. 9 and were released into the ocean.
The resort’s staff, with the help of municipal biologist Haron Deo Vargas, worked together to ensure the approximately 106 eggs the mother laid remained safe during the 65-day incubation period. Mövenpick and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources put up fences around the nesting area to protect it.
It was indeed a welcome—strange, even—occurrence as authorities last year cited the laying of eggs on Boracay’s shore a sign that the animal, which are known to be solitary and lay eggs in hidden areas, trusted the beach despite the many people who flock to it.
An Olive Ridley can grow only about 2 feet and weigh up to 100 lbs., making it the smallest of the sea turtles—along with Kemp Ridley.
According to the National Geographic, these omnivorous turtles got their name from the greenish color of their skin and shell. They can live up to 50 years.
“Olive Ridleys have nesting sites all over the world, on tropical and subtropical beaches. Females lay about a hundred eggs, but may nest up to three times a year. The nesting season is from June to December,” says the National Geographic.
Though widely considered the “most abundant of the marine turtles,” the NatGeo says they are in trouble due predators and other threats. Sadly, some are preyed on by crabs, raccoons, snakes, and sharks. Fishing nets also pose harm as they frequently snag and drown these turtles.
Meanwhile, in Noveleta, Cavite, about 44 Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) hatchlings were released on Jan. 13 in a bid to ensure the conservation of marine turtle species.
The hatchlings went into the waters from Long Beach Resort in Barangay San Rafael IV.
According to Ed Chavez, head of Noveleta Municipal Environment and Natural Resources, the eggs were buried in the sand of the resort where they eventually hatched and set out to the sea.
Prior to the release, authorities led a short meeting with village folks, presenting brief information about the marine sea turtles and their importance in the marine biodiversity.
Mayor Dino Reyes Chua and Cavite City Councilor Edmund Tirona, a Cavite Wildlife Enforcement Officer of the Cavite Province, led the release of hatchlings, which hopefully survive until their expected life span of 45 years.
“Ito po isang patunay na ang dalampasigan dito sa Long Beach ay malinis sa pagtutulungan ng local government unit and Barangay San Rafael. Unti-unti nang bumabalik ang sigla, umaasa po ang inyong lingkod na darami pa ang mga pawikan na mangingitlog sa pampang ng Noveleta para maging marine sanctuary ang Bayan ng Noveleta.”
(This is proof that the water in Long Beach is clean, thanks to the cooperation between the local government unit and Barangay San Rafael. With this development, I hope that more turtles will lay eggs in Noveleta so that hopefully we become a marine sanctuary), Chua said in an interview.
Leatherbacks are the largest turtle on Earth, growing up to 7 feet long and weighing up to 2,000 pounds. They are carnivores.
The locality also follows the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office’s information campaign to save the sea turtles which are now in its vulnerable stage due to irresponsible killing for meat and illegal trade of its shell and other body parts, according to Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. RA 9147.
In addition to human activity, Leatherbacks fall victim to fishing lines and nets, struck by boats, or die when they ingest floating plastic debris mistaken for jellyfish.
“We are hoping that all of them survive and we are looking forward to see them again soon when these sea turtles go back where they hatched to lay their eggs in same area here,” Tirona said hopefully during an interview. With Dennis Abrina