Personnel from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) immediately responded to the situation after they received the report from a concerned citizen who incidentally was a staff of Sitio Barimbing in Brgy. San Manuel.
“In observance of preventive health measures on COVID-19, we made sure that our team headed to the area wearing personal protective equipment, and they strictly observed the social distancing policy,” said CENR Officer of Puerto Princesa, Felizardo Cayatoc.
The stranded turtle measured 47 cm in curved carapace width (CCW) and 53 cm in curved carapace length (CCL) and weighed approximately seven kilos. The turtle did not have a marine turtle tag attached to it.
The response team said the turtle may have been hit by a boat propeller, as shown by the cuts on its head. Initially, the turtle was able to lift its head to breathe but cannot swim back to the sea.
“It might be disoriented due to the impact caused by the propeller,” Ma. Vivian Soriano, Chief of the Conservation and Development Section of CENRO reported.
As advised by the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the CENRO took into custody the injured turtle for further observation.
The turtle recovered the next day and was able to crawl on the sand and make swimming movements when lifted. Its flippers moved in coordination and it could fully submerge itself and swim normally.
The team then attached a marine turtle tag with serial number PH0704E to its right flipper, to track its movements and collect valuable information that is necessary for its protection. It was then released to the sea.
“We know it would be fine, so it was time to release the turtle back into the sea,” said Soriano who led the CENRO staff and officials of Brgy. San Manuel in sending back the turtle into its natural habitat.
The Green Turtle is in the red list of threatened species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Strong, concerted actions are called to protect and save its population.
“We are thankful that the community and the local government remain vigilant in protecting our valued species, even amid the threat brought by COVID-19,” DENR Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado said.
“It is also at this time that we recognize our frontline and skeletal staff who continue to render public service despite the risks,” he added.
In line with the observance of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon, and pursuant to the directive of Secretary Roy Cimatu, the regional and field offices of DENR MIMAROPA currently implement alternative working arrangements, with majority of the personnel working from home. A skeletal workforce was created to render vital, urgent and time-bound services.
“We assure the public that for as long as we do not compromise the health of our personnel and the community, we will respond and continue our work in protecting the environment even during these times,” the Adornado concluded. (With report and photos from CENRO Puerto Princesa) ###