165 more baby sea turtles released to Subic Bay
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—As many as 165 sea turtle hatchlings were released to the sea here on Thursday (Dec. 14), allowing tourists to witness the tiny marine animals’ return to their natural habitat.
Marife Castillo, head of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Olongapo City, said the newborn olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) hatched at All Hands beach here and were set free about 6 p.m.
“Two female adult sea turtles laid eggs at All Hands beach in October. This is the second batch of baby marine turtles that we released this cold season,” Castillo said.
On December 9, 120 baby turtles were released to the sea from the same beach.
Resort guests and their children watched the newly hatched marine turtles (pawikan) slowly crawl to the shore to reach the sea for the first time.
Lawyers from the local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Zambales and other officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority also witnessed the release.
Castillo said they freed the baby turtles at night because fewer predators roam the sea in the dark.
All Hands Beach is among seven major areas inside the free port that have been identified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as nesting sites for pawikan.
Amethya Dela Llana, head of the Ecology Center of SBMA, reminded the guests to help preserve and protect the “threatened” marine turtles.
“Sea turtles have been on earth for more than 100 million years, surviving the dinosaurs which became extinct 65 million years ago,” Dela Llana told the guests.
Although marine turtles could live long, six of seven sea turtle species are considered threatened and some endangered, she said.
“Poaching, loss of habitat and marine pollution pose danger to these creatures. They sometimes ingest plastic which they mistake for jelly fish,” Dela Llana said.
Castillo said the olive ridley was among the three species of sea turtles found in Zambales province.
Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are also seen in the province’s waters, according to Castillo.
The 165 baby sea turtles they set free raised to 4,042 the number of hatchlings, which the management of All Hands Beach had released since 2012.
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