SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia made a personal appeal to residents and visitors in Subic Bay Freeport Zone to be mindful of nesting places of sea turtles in the free port, and report any sighting and nesting to the agency's Ecology Center.
"These are gentle creatures that need our protection, for without our help they would likely face extinction," Garcia pointed out.
"So I'm making a personal appeal to everyone to support our marine turtle conservation program. The presence of these sea turtles or pawikan make Subic a very special place,"" he added.
Garcia said that the SBMA recently launched its "Guard My Nest" sea turtle conservation program to enjoin stakeholders' participation in making Subic establishments more pawikan-friendly.
"This is why we discourage pavement constructions on the beach where the turtles lay eggs, and urge establishments to minimize lighting at night because this disorients the pawikan," Garcia said.
"Most of all, we are asking everyone to help keep our beaches clean so that they remain suitable for nesting," he added.
At least seven beach areas in the free port have been identified as nesting sites for marine turtles. These are the beaches at the Waterfront area, All Hands, Dungaree, Edgewater, Grande Island, Camayan, and Minanga.
"All of these areas, however, contain beach resorts and other commercial tourism establishments, which makes it really important for Subic stakeholders to join us in this campaign," Garcia also said.
According to Angel Bagaloyos, officer in charge of the SBMA Ecology Center, three out of the six marine turtle species visit Subic Bay to lay eggs, and mostly during the cold months from September to February.
This nesting season, the SBMA Ecology Center has already recorded sea turtle nesting at All Hands Beach, with a total of 268 eggs laid; Grande Island, with a total of 835 eggs laid; and Camayan Beach, with a total of 314 eggs.
The eggs are expected to hatch starting this month, and until February, said Rhea Jane Pescador, project coordinator of the "Guard My Nest" program.
To help protect the marine turtles, the SBMA Ecology Center tags visiting nesters to add to a global database; guards known nesting sites from predators; and, along with local stakeholders, releases hatchlings to help ensure their survival.
"Even then, only about one in every 4,000 baby turtles eventually survive to adulthood," Pescador said. The rest fall prey to other sea animals, commercial fishers, or die of pollution or ingestion of marine debris.
"This fact underscores the need for us to join in protecting these sea turtles," Bagaloyos said.
"If anyone sees a marine turtle or discovers a nest in the free port, kindly relay the information to the Ecology Center at (047) 252-4656 or 0917-3912268. Our staff would be ready to assist you," he added. (30)
An Olive Ridley sea turtle comes to Subic Bay to lay eggs