Local Agency Urges Non-Disturbance of Turtles Released by Saipan

A Green sea turtle breaks the surface to breathe by Mila Zinkova.

Somewhere in the vicinity between Catanduanes and Guinahoan and Refugio island just north of Caramoan, Camarines Sur one marine turtle (pawikan) may be feeding or finding refuge or just passing by, or maybe nesting. The DENR office urges the public and those living in coastal communities not to capture the turtle(s) nor attempt to remove their attached transmitters.

According to the department of environment and natural resources (DENR) office for community environment and natural resource one of the three green sea turtles identified as Kumiko was detected on the area. The turtles were attached with satellite transmitter on their back and released last summer in the Pacific ocean.

Satellite tags are radio transmitters that send signals to satellites orbiting the Earth. Information from the satellite is then relayed to computers. Scientists then plot tracks and produce maps showing the migration routes of each tagged turtle. Satellite tagging provides immediate and detailed information on turtle movements, dive time, and water temperature, showing the actual route taken to foraging areas by turtles after nesting.

On August 10th, the turtle was tracked inside the Philippine sea headed towards its foraging habitat. The second turtle, Magas, appears to be heading north possibly Japan, although currently east of Taiwan. The third female, Limwamway, just laid her 9th nest. She has yet to migrate, but her transmitter appears in good condition (paced after her 4th nesting event) and bow tracked for impending migration, assuming she’s done nesting.

Kumiko is the first satellite tagged turtle in Saipan. Upon release early Wednesday morning, May 25th, the turtle crawled back into the Philippine Sea with her new hardware fiber-glassed to the back of her shell.

Kumiko had her second nest hatched on July 10, 2011 at Bird Island beach. There were 4 hatchlings trapped in the nest by roots and rocks and volunteers helped to release them. The hatch success rate was 82.9% while the emergence success was 76.8%.

Sea turtles that nest in Saipan and neighboring islands only stay long enough to mate and lay several nests and are off again to their next destination- foraging grounds. These foraging grounds are places where turtles find food and shelter for several years until they return to their nesting grounds to lay eggs on Saipan beaches again.

It takes decades for sea turtles to reach sexual maturity. After mating at sea, adult female sea turtles return to land to nest at night. Different species of sea turtles exhibit various levels of philopatry. In the extreme case, females return to the beach where they hatched. This can take place every two to four years in maturity. They make from one to eight nests per season.

The mature nesting female hauls herself onto the beach, nearly always at night, and finds suitable sand on which to create a nest. Using her hind flippers, she digs a circular hole 40 to 50 centimetres (16 to 20 in) deep. After the hole is dug, the female then starts filling the nest with a clutch of soft-shelled eggs one by one until she has deposited around 50 to 200 eggs, depending on the species. Some species have been reported to lay 250 eggs, such as the hawksbill. After laying, she re-fills the nest with sand, re-sculpting and smoothing the surface until it is relatively undetectable visually. The whole process takes thirty to sixty minutes. She then returns to the ocean, leaving the eggs untended.

The DENR office urges the public and those living in coastal communities not to capture the turtle(s) nor attempt to remove their attached transmitters. Instead, people are encouraged to let the animals stay or pass undisturbed. The gadgets are used for monitoring the migration tracking of the animals. Data collected and gathered are utilized for the conservation and protection of marine turtles.

From Various Agencies and Sources.


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