Dipolog City

Dipolognons send pawikan hatchlings off to sea 

Gualberto Laput

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Dipolognons send pawikan hatchlings off to sea 

BACK TO THE SEA. Marine turtle hatchlings crawl toward the sea after their release on Monday, January 15, 2024.

Gualberto Laput/Rappler

'The hatchlings looked like tiny tanks rushing towards the shore,' describes a middle-aged Dipolognon

DIPOLOG, Philippines – More than a month after calling on the people to join in protecting pawikan (marine turtle) eggs nests on the city’s coastlines, Mayor Dexter Darel Uy led Dipolognons in releasing at least 118 hatchlings to the sea on Monday, January 15.

“Dipolognons heeded our call for a community-based protection of pawikan nesting areas.” Uy told Rappler. “Now that we have successfully hatched and released the baby turtles back to their habitat, we have shown to the world and ourselves that we can save our environment if we work together.”

Lorenzo Aseniero, city hall’s information officer, said they have invited Dipolognons to witness the release of the Green Sea Turtle hatchlings adding that people must be aware, appreciate, love, and protect the pawikan that in the past couple of years have come back to lay eggs.

WATCH. Dipolognons watch as over a hundred marine turtle hatchlings are released to the sea. Gualberto Laput/Rappler

Not a few Dipolognons came – they included government employees, fishers, students, parents bringing their children, and even foreign tourists.

“Murag mga gagmay nga tangke de giyera nga galumba ug dagan paingon sa dagat (The hatchlings looked like tiny tanks rushing towards the shore),” said a middle-aged Dipolognon.

A known local artist, Didi Romano and his wife Marietta, also witnessed the release of the hatchlings and told Rappler that Dipolog is blessed with the marine turtles coming back again to lay eggs.

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“I have been watching marine turtles since I was a student in the 1950s. I saw marine turtles of all sizes here on our coast before and also when I walked from the highway to Pulauan Wharf in (nearby) Dapitan to get a boat to Dumaguete,” the 75-year-old Didi recalled.

He added that the city government’s effort to educate the people about marine turtles is also teaching them to love and care for the environment. The mayor earlier said the return of the marine turtles indicates that Dipolog’s coastal waters are going back to being healthy.

After leading in the release of the hatchlings, Uy said, “We must learn how to protect our environment and teach the next generations to do so.”

Since late November, five nesting areas with an estimated 250 eggs have been discovered within the foreshore of the 3.2-kilometer Dipolog Sunset Boulevard. Sporadic Green Sea Turtle nestings have been recorded in the past few years within the 7.2-kilometer coastline of the city in Zamboanga del Norte province.

TAKING THE LEAD. Dipolog Mayor Darel Dexter Uy leads in the release of pawikan hatchlings on Monday, January 15, 2024. Gualberto Laput/Rappler

The city government then ordered its environment and natural resources office to cordon off the nesting areas with yellow lines and sought the support of the fishers and residents in coastal areas to help protect the pawikan eggs.

There are five species of marine turtles, five of which – Green Sea Turtles, Olive Ridleys, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Loggerhead – are found in the Philippines. Green Sea Turtle nesting areas are largely in Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga del Sur.

In 2012, the DENR-BMB counted a record high of 19,550 nesting areas throughout the Philippines and a yearly average of two million eggs. Lately, DENR-BMB said nesting areas have dropped to 11,277 while the egg count was reduced by half. – Rappler.com

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