Koronadal City—Environment officials and coastal residents have set free an Olive Ridley sea turtle off to high seas from the coast of Sarangani Bay on Thursday.
Resident Nena Tabaya Ebba said she found and saved the turtle after it was caught in a fishnet in the coastal Barangay Burias in Glan town, Sarangani Province.
Executive Director Nilo Tamoria of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 12 said the sea turtle (scientific name Lepidochelys olivacea) was released at 7 a.m. to live normally in the natural ocean habitats of sea turtles.
Ebba said they had attempted to release the sea turtle, but it kept coming back ashore—close enough to be spotted by her family dwelling in the coastal village.
Sending it off finally, Tamoria was joined by midlevel environment executives—Glan Sarangani CENR officer Abdul Cariga and Technical Service Division Chief, Dr. Rosalinda B. Cortez—and local residents when the turtle, estimated to be less than a year old, was finally set free from the shoreline of Sarangani.
Tamoria said he had ordered the release of the turtle on learning that it had been in captivity for the last eight months.
“I saw this turtle eight months ago, as it was entangled into a net. I took it and placed in a small washbasin; it was very tiny then,” said Ebba.
“We want this marine creature to live freely to the ocean. But prior to its release, the DENR had acclimatized the sea turtle by feeding it prey like small live crabs to ascertain that it can survive in the wild,” Tamoria said.
Joy Ologuin, protected area superintendent of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, said the process of acclimatizing or assimilating the sea turtle in captivity would ensure that it is healthy and in good shape to be able to survive in the ocean.
“The DENR XII team made observation (on the turtle) for three days and monitored how it responded during the acclimatization,” Ologuin said.
“It was also placed with a tag for it to be visible in the process of monitoring (its movements in shallow sea water level),” she added.
Ebba was apparently holding back her tears, as her captive turtle was being released, saying it was not easy to be taking care of it for months.
”I needed to change the water every two to three days and feed it with fresh fish,” Ebba said. “Sometimes we didn’t have food to eat but I would make sure that I could feed it. There were times that I tried to cook rice for her when there was no fish catch.”
“We would also like to thank the RD Foundation for helping us in conserving sea turtles, by providing the community with sea turtle enclosures that would serve as nesting ground,” Tamoria said.
“The growing environmental awareness of the community, the support of the private sector and the technical assistance of the DENR makes the room for a working convergence for a sound environmental management of Sarangani Bay,” Tamoria added.