Raring to do something different before summer ends? Have a fun and d meaningful break by supporting a local marine conservation program.
Earlier this year, me and my colleague Reby, visited the Pawikan Watchers in San Juan, La Union. Pawikan Watchers is a volunteer placement program that aims to help existing Philippines-based turtle conservation programs. Its pilot program in San Juan, La Union is a partnership between Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, Coastal Underwater Resource Management Actions (CURMA), Route +63, and Save Philippine Seas. Its pilot run had a team of 7 (6 Filipinos and 1 Swiss).
Background: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources started the Pawikan Conservation program in the 1970s. Due to manpower and budget constraints, however, DENR was not able to collect enough data on the country’s marine turtle population, and nesting grounds. There was not enough data on many of the nesting grounds of the marine turtles – and this affected the pace of legislation to protect the turtles.
Basically, the Pawikan Watchers helps DENR collect and share data about sea turtles. Sounds easy? Here are 3 things you never knew about Pawikan Conservation programs:
1. Conservation entails a lot of walking in the dead of night.
Pawikans come ashore at night to lay eggs. This means that to be able to record how many nests there are and to protect the eggs from poachers (yikes!), conservationists have to do their beach patrols between midnight to around 4 AM. And not only will you be looking out for nests, you’ll have to be able to transfer the eggs to a safer location — the hatchery….
2. Transferring pawikan eggs is (literally) back breaking business.
Transferring eggs to the hatchery can get stressful, very fast. You dig the eggs up gently, using your arms and hands (think pawikan fins).
and you have to transfer the eggs in the exact position you found them:
and count them too.
*No data means no legislation gets passed. Mapping nesting grounds are essential for passing legislation to protect them. It’s like a more complicated way of saying “pics or it didn’t happen.”
3. And after they hatch, you have to release them into the sea immediately. Hatchlings need to be release immediately into the sea or else they will lose their “frenzy” or expend the energy they need to swim to open sea.
Want to help out Pawikan Watchers and other conservation efforts? Contact: http://savephilippineseas.org/ to see how you can help. 🙂