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PIA Press Release

2 Olive Ridley sea turtles return to rightful abode

Tacloban City (October 8) - Every creature has its own place in this earth and it is there where it should be. Thus, on October 5, 2007, two Olive Ridley sea turtles were guided back by the municipal officials, members of the Bantay Dagat, the fisherman who caught them, several members of the media and the personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to the sea where their endangered species were waiting for them.

The tale of the two sea turtles started on October 2, when a fisherman from Barangay Santo Nino in the municipality of Tanauan in the province of Leyte spotted a sea turtle weighing about 20 to 30 kilos, along the shores of Tanauan.

The fisherman, Ricardo Macapanas captured the sea turtle and brought it to the headquarters of the Tanauan Bantay Dagat knowing fully well of the local government's thrust on conservation and protection of marine life and the environment.

The members of the Bantay Dagat reported the incident to Tanauan Mayor Roque Tiu who because he was in Cebu, requested the Philippine Information Agency in Region 8 to document the matter and report it to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for proper disposition.

In the meantime, the turtle was led toward the inland to be placed in the speedboat of the Bantay Dagat in the meantime. However, it was observed that the sea turtle kept on turning back towards the sea. It was as if the sea turtle was looking for its companion, the members of the Bantay Dagat noted.

True enough, in the afternoon of October 4, the same fisherman caught another sea turtle, a smaller one this time but with the same camouflage-like shell.

In the morning of October 5, the personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources came and declared that the two sea turtles belong to the Olive Ridley species (Lepidochelys olivacea), an endangered specie.

Mr. Mariano Donceras, the DENR personnel said that the olive ridley sea turtles, named for the olive color of its heart-shaped shell, are considered as the smallest marine turtles measuring only 2 to 2 feet and weighing 35 to 40 kilos.

He said that the olive ridley has one of the most extraordinary nesting habits in the natural world. Large groups of turtles gather off shore of nesting beaches. Then, all at once, vast numbers of turtles come ashore and nest in what is known as an "arribada". During these arribadas, hundreds to thousands of females come ashore to lay their eggs. At many nesting beaches, the nesting density is so high that previously laid egg clutches are dug up by other females excavating the nest to lay their own eggs.

Olive ridleys, he added, reach sexual maturity around 15 years, a young age compared to some other sea turtle species. Females nest every year, once or twice a season, laying clutches of approximately 100 eggs. Incubation takes 50-60 days. After incubation, hatchlings emerge weighing less than an ounce (< 28 g) and measuring about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). The hatchlings are mostly black with a greenish hue on the sides.

The olive ridley is mainly a "pelagic" sea turtle, traveling worldwide, but has been known to inhabit coastal areas, including bays and estuaries. Olive ridleys mostly breed annually and have an annual migration from pelagic foraging, to coastal breeding and nesting grounds, back to pelagic foraging. Trans-Pacific ships have observed olive ridleys over 2,400 miles (4,000 km) from shore.

Olive ridleys often migrate great distances between feeding and breeding grounds. In two separate satellite telemetry studies, both male and female olive ridleys leaving the breeding and nesting grounds off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica migrated out to the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean. Both sexes migrated to waters deeper than 9800 ft (3000 m).

Mr. Donceras put a tag with the marking of RP 9599 and RP 9600 on the flipper of each of the sea turtles before they were guided back to the sea where they rightfully belong and where their group, hopefully awaits for them.

Mayor Tiu commended the local fisherman for not killing the turtle which is listed as an endangered species. He called on the other fishermen to do the same, when they are in the same situation, so as to ensure that the future generation will also enjoy the bounty of nature that this generation is now enjoying. (PIA 8) [top]

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