10 February 2012

‘Pnoy Pawikans’ released at Subic Freeport

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – A total of 114 turtle hatchlings were released into the sea here by students on the occasion of President Aquino’s birthday on Wednesday.

According to All Hands Beach Resort official Mark Dayrit, the turtles which hatched at about 12:30 a.m. on February 8 were collectively nicknamed “PNoy Pawikans” as their birth coincided with the President’s birthday.

The baby turtles were released by some students from the Brent International School in Subic Freeport, employees of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), and members of local community organizations.

Cynthia Robles of Greg’s Waterworld, a tourism establishment in this free port, said that the hatchlings that were released into the wild belonged to the Olive Ridley species, one of the three species of sea turtles that lay eggs along the Zambales coastline.

The Olive Ridley is described to be a small sea turtle, with an adult carapace length averaging from 60 to 70 centimeters. Olive Ridley turtles are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.

The All Hands Beach is among the few known turtle nesting sites in the Subic Freeport, leading the management of the resort to pledge give its assurance to preserve the area as a turtle conservation site.

Dayrit said five of the nine clusters of sea turtle eggs laid at All hands have already hatched and released into the sea without having been endangered by predators. Among the recent hatchlings were those of a Hawksbill, a critically-endangered species.

“We contacted the SBMA Ecology Center to ask their support in caring for these animals,” Dayrit said, adding that the resort staff also signified willingness to help in the conservation of these vulnerable animals especially during their nesting season.

He said that the Ecology Center has given them tags to identify the turtles that lay eggs at the resort, as well as a chart to record the number of eggs laid, along with a guide on how to relocate eggs to safer places along the beach.

The resort staff have also given free lectures among visitors, helping make elementary and high school students aware of the need to protect the marine creatures. For this, the management is giving free rides to lecture participants, from the Subic Freeport main gate to the resort, which is about 20 kilometers away.

“We want to make sure that our children get first-hand experience on how to handle these animals. Awareness among people is the key in the protection and survival of the sea turtles,” Dayrit said. (Jonas Reyes, Manila Bulletin)

Newly-hatched Olive Ridley turtles are released into the sea at the All Hands Beach Resort in the Subic Bay Freeport.