By Leilanie Adriano

RELEASED. Environment personnel and other wildlife volunteers facilitate the release of a green sea turtle on Thursday (March 28, 2024) in Barangay Pancian, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Environment officials are urging the public to report any sightings of “pawikan” (marine turtle) in their area. (Photo courtesy of Rizal Pascual)

LAOAG CITY – Villagers and personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday rescued a distressed male “pawikan” or green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) weighing 102 kilos in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Rizal Pascual, extension officer of the DENR, told the Philippine News Agency that the turtle was guided back into the sea after being accidentally caught through a net by local fishermen in Pancian village early in the morning.

In coordination with the municipal environment office of Pagudpud town and the DENR office in the adjacent town of Bangui, the marine turtle was immediately released into the seawater.

“We were not able to put a clip tag on it as we rushed going to the released site after receiving the report from village officials,” Pascual said.

Last Feb. 1, another 22-kilo green sea turtle was caught and released by wildlife volunteers in Sitio Ayoyo, Barangay Caparispisan in Pagudpud.

“We are very thankful to the fisherfolk of Pagudpud for reporting immediately when they accidentally net sea turtles,” said Eduardo Angadol, forestry senior manager of North Luzon Renewables and a member of the Pagudpud Pawikan Conservation Group.

He said sea turtles eat from the net of fishers, causing their capture.

According to the local fishermen, sea turtles are often spotted in Barangay Saud and other portions of Pagudpud particularly during the months of November to January as sea turtles lay their eggs in the shoreline.

To protect them from predators, the Pagudpud municipal government, in coordination with environment officials, is considering declaring the area as a marine sea turtle sanctuary.

Early on, the DENR and the Pagudpud Pawikan Conservation Group facilitated conservation and enforcement training in the town to help protect sea turtles. (PNA)