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Dumaguete City, Philippines Saturday, July 16, 2016
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SU laboratory
releases turtle to sea

The Silliman University Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences released a hawksbill turtle to sea after it accidentally entangled itself in a fishing net off the coast of Barangay Bantayan in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

The hawksbill turtle, (Eretmochelys imbricate), was turned over by unidentified fishermen of Barangay Bantayan to SU-IEMS via Ramon Raymundo at around 11 a.m. Thursday, a stranding report from Jean Utzurrum said.

Utzurrum, also of SU-IEMS and a trained responder in marine wildlife rescue, said the fishermen found it accidentally entangled in their “pukot” or gillnet, which was set about a kilometer from the shore.

The entanglement and rescue of the turtle destroyed their net but nonetheless, they brought the turtle to SU-IEMS for rehabilitation, Utzurrum said.

They also inquired about a reward or compensation to repair the damaged net but SU-IEMS has no program of that nature, she added.

Utzurrum assessed the hawksbill turtle around 2 p.m. based on the assessment procedures described in the Philippine Aquatic Wildlife Rescue and Response Manual for Marine Turtles.

The turtle was deemed fit for release based on these four behavioral signs: flipper movement is coordinated, head is raised with each breath at surface, it can fully submerge itself, and it can swim normally, Utzurrum said.

The case was then endorsed to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Dumaguete to coordinate tagging and release; Utzurrum was advised to release without tagging but to conduct photo-documentation instead.

Measurements and photographs were taken at around 2:45 p.m. and by 3 p.m., the turtle was successfully released in the shallow waters of Silliman Beach in Barangay Bantayan, Dumaguete City.

Utzurrum's report showed the hawksbill turtle had a curved carapace width and length of 46cm and 53.3cm, respectively.

The carapace had some algal growths that were brushed off; some minor damages were also noted but source or cause was undetermined.

Barnacles were present on the plastron and embedded in the skin (neck and flippers) but were not removed.

The hawksbill turtle is listed as critically endangered under the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species.

The Convention on International Trade also “outlaws the capture and trade of hawksbill sea turtles and products derive from them”.

Ben Malayang III, president of Silliman University, expressed his gratitude via Utzurrum's Facebook account, saying: “Great! Thanks for this, jean. And thanks to the fishers and our colleagues at IEMS”.

The first responders to the entangling of the hawksbill sea turtle were the fishermen, Ramon Raymundo and Renato Jadloc, while the response team members were Jean Utzurrum, Raymundo, Jadloc, Flora Neri, Dianne Mira Yap and Adonis Floren.*JFP


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