Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the sighting of a nesting sea turtle or pawikan in Zambales province is a testimony that the preservation of wildlife in the country must continue even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even if we are faced with a difficult situation brought about by the threats of the disease, we must continue to strive to protect and preserve our endangered pawikan,” Cimatu said, adding that the sighting “proves that our efforts are not in vain.”

According to Cimatu, this incident was “enough to motivate the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to carry on with its task of protecting the environment during these uncertain times.”

The DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City has received a report that sea turtle laying eggs were spotted at Aplaya Caarusipan Beach Resort in San Antonio town on the night of Nov. 28.

The CENRO immediately sent a team to conduct monitoring and inspection at the site.

Upon inspection, the team identified the sea turtle as an olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) classified as an endangered species under DENR Administrative Order 2019-09 or the Updated National List of Threatened Philippine Fauna and their Categories.

Olongapo City’s CENR Officer Roger Encarnacion said the nesting site, which is just in front of the beach resort, was “safe from possible destruction from tide.”

“Thankfully, we do not need to relocate the nest to a safer place. But as a precautionary measure, we placed multiple fences made from nets to protect the eggs from possible predators,” Encarnacion said.

According to Encarnacion, the team will regularly monitor the turtle eggs to protect them from poachers and illegal wildlife traders. The CENRO will also conduct weekly information, education and communication (IEC) campaign such as seminars for the concerned local government unit staff and resort employees. #