Even under community quarantine, fisherfolk in the town of Magsaysay in the southern Philippine province of Misamis Oriental were able to protect a hawksbill turtle nesting ground.
During the first week of May, the people of the coastal village were able to release a total of 299 turtle hatchlings into the waters of Gingoog Bay.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species website included the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) among those “critically endangered” due to the reduction of its population in the past 10 years.
Rolando Pagara, a village council member and lead turtle conservationist in the town of Magsaysay, lauded the villagers for helping in conservation efforts despite the community quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We continue to go out and fish and ensure to protect our marine protected area,” he said, adding that when fishermen went out to fish they noticed the turtles nesting on the beach.
Pagara, who has been leading the conservation efforts of turtles in the area, said the incubation time this year came early.
He said the summer heat might have been a factor in the early hatching of eggs.
In 2019, only 315 turtle hatchlings from five nesting sites were recorded to have been released in Magsaysay town.
In 2018, about six turtle nesting were recorded, and 2017 recorded three, the lowest number of turtle nesting.
In 2012, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources designated a 612-hectare area in Magsaysay town as a “critical habitat” for hawksbill turtles.
A department order established the coastal villages of Candiis, San Isidro, and Damayuhan in town as wildlife critical habitats.
The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines penalizes the hunting, killing, gathering, and destruction of turtle eggs, destroying their nests, selling, transporting and mere possession of any of its parts or derivatives.
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