Virac awaits hatching of sea turtles’ eggs in 3 nests
posted 5-May-2019  ·  
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LIFE AND DEATH. Left photo shows a green sea turtle laying eggs on a beach in baran-gay Talisoy in Virac several weeks ago. Last April 14 in the sea off barangay Rawis, a dead sea turtle was found in a state of decomposition (right photo). It is suspected that the death of the juvenile turtle was precipitated by its ingestion of plastic trash floating in the ocean.

Officials of the Virac municipal government and the entire community in barangay Talisoy are keenly awaiting the hatching of several hundred eggs laid by three green sea turtles up on a beach just meters away from a residential area.

According to municipal agriculturist Jimma Tadoy, the first turtle emerged from the sea on the night of March 12, 2019, slowly made its way up the shore of Tampad beach, dug a shallow hole with its flippers and then laid its eggs before returning to the sea.

This was followed 11 days later last March 23 by a second sea turtle, accompanied by its mate, but the female turtle did not lay eggs. The following night, a different turtle showed up at about 6:30 P.M., laid its eggs and returned to the sea water at about midnight. On April 5, another turtle laid eggs on the same beach.

In all instances, alert barangay officials contacted personnel of the Municipal Agriculture Office and, with the LGU workers’ assistance, secured the nesting sites which have been fenced and declared off limits to the public.

Last week, Tadoy disclosed, another turtle marched up the sandy shore at the former Bosdak beach resort at sitio Labanay, Magnesia del Sur, but it went back to the sea without laying its eggs. Its return is now being monitored by local officials so its nest could be protected.

During the nesting season from November to March, sea turtles stay in the sea off the nesting area for up to 58 days, laying up to a thousand eggs per season.

According to Japhet Caranza of the Virac agriculture office who is in charge of the fishery sector, a sea turtle lays anywhere from 70 to 200 eggs each time, depending on the size of the turtle, with the eggs hatching in six to 10 weeks or between 42 to 70 days.

The sex of the hatchlings is usually determined by the temperature in which the eggs are laid, he said. If the temperature is below 30 degrees Centigrade, this shortens the incubation period and the hatchlings are predominantly male. If the temperature rises above this, the hatchlings will turn out mostly female.

After emerging from the nest, crawling down the beach and while swimming in the sea, each hatchling imprints its location, which allows them to navigate back to the nesting site when they reach sexual maturity in 30 to 50 years.

It may be recalled that several years ago, some residents dug up a turtle’s nest and sold its eggs for food, unaware that Republic Act No. 9147 provides for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats, including sea turtles and its eggs.

Violators of this environment law will be fined as much as P300,000.00 and face a jail term of as much as four years. On the other hand, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora outlaws the capture and trade of sea turtles and their products.

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