Friday, August 2, 2013

DENR rescues leatherback turtle eggs in Albay

Ms. Angie Vilorai, biologist III of DENR Pawikan Conservation Project, thrusts a mesh trap into the new nest of rescued leatherback turtle eggs in Rawis, Legazpi City. Some 105 eggs were drawn from the nest likely to be submerged in tidal waters and are now safely placed in the new site. (Photo by Alfredo G. Macasinag, Jr.)

The leatherback nest demarcated by poles is barred from intrusion. This site will be subjected to protection as a critical habitat of marine turtles. (photo: RLMendones)
LEGAZPI CITY, The DENR excavated a leatherback turtle nest and rescued 105 eggs because the nest is likely to be inundated by high tide. If the eggs are reached by tidal water they will rot. The DENR marine turtle experts are optimistic there will be lower mortality having made such transfer. A safer ground was identified some 50 meters from the nest with almost identical condition with the area and the original nest.

Baka sakaling may mapisa kahit almost 4-day old na yong eggs, inilipat naming sa mas mataas na lugar na hindi aabuta nng high tide s aloob ng 2 buwan. Bago kami nag-decide na i-transfer yong eggs (we are taking chances despite moving 4-day old eggs to an area higher in elevation and is not likely reached by high tide), we consulted Dr. Nick Pilcher and Dr. Chan EngHeng on the procedure on the transfer of 4-day old eggs. Both have conducted researches on leatherback turtles.

Dr. Pilcher advised to use egg tray. Dr. Chan said no shaking, No vibration and No over-turning of eggs. They both said the vertical axis should be maintained.

“It’s the same procedure used by DENR-PAWB-Pawikan Conservation Project in transferring newly laid eggs of green, hawksbill and olive ridley turtles. Actually it was our first time to transfer 4-day old eggs. We are used to the standard procedure of transferring eggs immediately after laying and we finish the process in less than an hour with a maximum period of 2 hours,” explained Angie Viloria on the rescue.

There were other observations noted among them: majority of the eggs were found to be in unstable shape which indicates that it was previously touched; there were about 105 eggs, 90 of which are normal while 15 were abnormal with variable sizes (small lanzones and grapes, the others are light and empty). The size of the leatherback egg is slightly smaller than a tennis ball.

The Philippine Navy continues to guard the area while DENR Regional Office’s Protected Areas, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service records daily temperature of sand and ambient air temperature.

This is considered the first documented leatherback turtle nesting in the Philippines, the Pawikan Conservation Project confirms. (RMendones, DENR-V/PIA Sorsogon)


DENR, Albay provincial government, Phil. Navy to ensure protection of pawikan eggs

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug 2 – Three agencies are now working in unison to ensure protection of the eggs of the giant leatherback turtle which laid eggs last Sunday (July 14) evening in the coastline of Brgy. Rawis, Legazpi City.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales announced today that the DENR will be working with the Provincial Government of Albay and the Philippine Navy (Naval Forces Southern Luzon) to guard the eggs and ensure that it will hatch within the protocol of the Department.

“This one event is historical and a first ever documented laying of eggs by a giant leatherback turtle in the Philippines, hence, it is imperative that we should see to it that these turtle eggs will be accorded with proper protection so as to ensure survival of the hatchlings,” RED Gonzales emphasized.

Some DENR technical personnel were ordered to improve the makeshift fence to protect the intrusion of people and animals. They are also tasked to establish a perimeter fence for the no entry zone until personnel from the Pawikan Conservation Project of the DENR Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) arrive and shall take the lead in assessing whether or not the eggs will be transferred to a safer ground.

“I already assigned focal persons from the protected area and wildlife division to monitor the eggs frequently until they hatch within the incubation period, and also to make coordination with adjacent coastal barangays through their local officials in monitoring the beach head for a possible return of the giant leatherback turtle to lay eggs again after two weeks” he added.

According to the director, the provincial government through Gov. Joey Salceda is also monitoring the occurrence and employing means to complement the conservation and protection effort while the Phil. Navy has stationed personnel to watch the nesting area against possible intrusion.

On July 14, 2013 (Sunday evening) villagers had seen the leatherback turtle laying eggs which thereafter returned to sea. Based on eyewitness account and photos, the giant marine reptilian measures about two meters by one meter, in length and width, respectively and is touted as the largest of its kind and the first ever documented nesting in the country to date. (Jessel Basanta)

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