A two-meter long Leatherback turtle was freed Sunday night after laying hundred eggs on the shorelines of barangay Rawis of Legazpi city, a Philippine Navy (PN) officer said Monday.
The giant turtle was freed at about 8:00PM Sunday by coastal villagers, including representatives from the PN Naval Forces for Southern Luzon (NAVFORSOL) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),said Navy Ensign John Duruin, PN spokesperson.
Duruin said the Leatherback turtle was found by villagers along the corner of Yawa river and the coastline of barangay Rawis near the Navforsol headquarters.
Duruin in a phone interview said a villager informed on Saturday evening the Navy duty officer that a giant turtle was laying eggs on the sand.
Duruin said ”we immediately sent a team of Navy personnel to look into the report and see if the giant turtle was not injured.”
Myrna Baylon, Wild Life Section Chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Protected Areas Wildlife Coastal Zone Management Services (DENR-PAWCZMS) told the the Philippines News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview that the Leatherback turtle found at the Yawa river was measuring 2 meter long and 1 meter wide, weighing approximately 250 to 300 kilograms.
She said Leatherback sea turtle (Deomchelys coriacea) is the largest marine turtle found in the world, these type of marine mammal is now considered an endangered marine species.
Baylon said the giant turtle normally lays 50 to 110 eggs and it takes 45 to 70 days incubation period before hatchling would emerge.
Baylon cited that the mother turtle that was released at the village shorelines on Sunday, would return after two weeks to lay another set of eggs at the same nesting site.
Baylon said she instructed the Navy to secure the nesting site by building a chicken wire fence around the site to protect the eggs from predators such as dogs and other animals.
Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on the earth, considered to be endangered due to egg harvest, fishery by catch, coastal development, and highly variable food availability.
They are the only sea turtle that doesn’t have a hard bony shell. Its shell or the carapace is about 1.5 inches thick which consist of leathery, oil-saturated connective tissues and has seven longitudinal ridges and tapers to a blunt point. It is somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch.
Their front flippers don’t have claws or scales and are proportionally longer than in other sea turtles.
Their back flippers are paddle-shaped. Both their ridged carapace and their large flippers make the leatherback uniquely equipped for long distance travel and migrations. The said type of turtle belongs to reptile species commonly found only in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean.(From PNA report)