CEBU CITY, Philippines – A green sea turtle was rescued on the shores of Naga City in Cebu, the biggest one found so far this year by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-VII).
The turtle, locally known as pawikan, was seen crawling along the beach adjacent to the fish sanctuary in sitio Tina-an, Barangay Colon, Naga City, at around 8 pm on Tuesday, May 12.
The female pawikan (Chelona mydas) measured 77 centimeters long and 69 cm wide.
“I think this is the biggest that we found this year…. It is in good condition and showed no signs of stress,” said Flordeliza Geyrozaga, community environment and officer of Naga City.
Geyrozaga conducted a physical examination on the turtle after it was found by caretakers of the fish sanctuary with the staff of the Bantay Dagat Task Force in Naga City. They tagged the pawikan with code PH-03661 and immediately released it into the Tina-an Dako Fish Sanctuary.
Dr Isabelo Montejo, regional director of DENR Central Visayas, told residents to immediately inform their local environment office if they see endangered species such as green sea turtles so these can be tagged as well and help save the species.
Montejo said the turtles should be released immediately if they are in good condition because wildlife animals should be in their natural habitat. Those who keep them from their natural habitat will be prosecuted.
“It is mandated in Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation Act that killing, destroying, inflicting injury, trading, collecting, gathering, and maltreating of these critically endangered species is punishable,” Montejo added.
Pawikan soup has become popular in the downtown villages of Pasil and San Nicolas in Cebu City. There has been public pressure on the local government to stop the sale of the soup in local eateries since the local media exposed the underground trade. – Rappler.com