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DENR orders protection of leatherback turtle nesting site

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga has ordered the strict protection of the nesting site of a critically endangered leatherback turtle in Cagayan province.

Loyzaga has directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Cagayan Valley Region to deploy personnel to monitor the nesting site of this marine resource on a 24-hour basis in the coastal town of Sta. Ana.

A female leatherback turtle laid eggs along the shoreline of Brgy. Centro, which was secured by local residents with nets.

The nesting site will be closely monitored for 75 days for hatchling emergence, with surveillance also conducted along nearby coasts to locate other nesting areas.

The turtle, which measured 200 cm long and 100 cm wide, has returned to the sea.

The DENR called for public support to protect the nesting site of the turtle, with scientific name Dermochelys coriacea.

Leatherbacks are classified as critically endangered under the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Loyzaga highlighted the importance of leatherbacks and other sea turtles to maintaining healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs that are critical habitats for marine life.

The Philippines is home to five marine turtle species, with leatherback turtles being the largest, as adults can weigh between 320 and 600 kilos and lay around 60 to 120 eggs.

The DENR earlier this year announced that a marine scientific research station will be established in Sta. Ana town where the Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape is located.

This facility aims to strengthen the monitoring and protection of coastal and marine resources, including sea turtles.

“Sta. Ana is one of the six project sites in the country for the establishment of a marine scientific research station to enhance ocean science and resource management and development strategies,” Loyzaga said.