Sea turtles

Marine turtles

The Apo Reef Natural Park Protected Area Management Office Park Rangers recorded daily occurrence of marine turtle emergence along the shoreline of Apo Reef. Nesting emergences are considered to have successfully deposited their eggs in the chambers while false crawls are the attempts made by the turtles. Nesting attempts usually ceased if the marine turtles were either disturbed by humans or the ecological factors such as the presence of vegetations. The daily recording of the Park Rangers started in January 2021. The species of marine turtles nesting at Apo Island are green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). Generally, the green sea turtle has higher counts for both false crawl and nesting emergence in comparison to the hawksbill turtle.

Olive-ridley turtle

A juvenile olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) was encountered along Parolang Putol during a field survey for the Asian Waterbird Census. It was struggling to swim after it ingested three sets of fishing hooks that were each attached to a styrofoam buoy by nylon wire. The fishing gears are locally known as pataw-pataw which were used to catch needlefish among others. The injured olive ridley turtle was transported to Apo Island and inspected. Upon visual inspection, the fishing hooks may not be removed because they were deep into the gastrointestinal tract of the individual. Hence, the fishing lines were only cut at the shortest possible length and the individual was tagged and then released. This is the first known record of Olive Ridley Turtle in ARNP.

Olive Ridley Turtle rescued from ingesting fishing gears. A) Three fishing lines inside the mouth of the individual, B) hooks from a pataw-pataw setup, C) Inconel tag attached to the individual, and D) rescued individual prior to release.

The daily recordings of the park rangers can help with the proper conservation efforts to be done for the nesting species of turtles around the island. However, further studies could also be provided to determine the population of the marine turtles. Hatching of turtle eggs were only chanced upon by the rangers on duty. Proper handling of turtle eggs can also be used as a baseline for the population dynamics and the personnel can be trained for conservation and data gathering. With the presence of tourists on the island, citizen science can also be applied to help with the conservation. One approach could be done using images of the turtle’s facial patterns. This will also allow the location of certain turtle species was found. The photograph can be analyzed with the help of researchers and NGOs such as LAMAVE and the results can be used to analyze data gaps in relation to marine turtles.

Image Gallery

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