Sea Turtle Conservation Training

Sea Turtle Conservation Training: 

Empowering Communities in Dumaran, Palawan

Background

Sea turtles play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance in coastal and marine ecosystems. Marine ecosystem is considered healthy when sea turtles are present and are freely foraging around. As part of the "Ridge to Reef Ecosystems Resource Management" project in Dumaran Island, Palawan, PBCAI conducted a comprehensive Sea Turtle Conservation Training from July 3-5, 2023, at Maraneg Beach Resort, Barangay Bacao.

In many coastal regions of Palawan, particularly in areas dedicated to seaweed farming, sea turtles are often perceived as nuisances. This is because one of the sea turtles main food are seaweeds, which impacts the productivity and economic outcomes of these agricultural efforts. 

Training Objectives:

  • Explain the importance of sea turtles in marine ecosystems.
  • Identify specific tasks and techniques in monitoring and protection of nests.
  • Enumerate procedures for hatchery operations (both ex-situ and in-situ).
  • Properly handle, tag, and release sea turtles.

Key Activities:

Day 1: Participants were introduced to Sea Turtle Biology and their ecological importance through lectures and videos. Due to inclement weather, actual monitoring of nesters was not conducted.

Day 2: The focus was on handling and rescuing sea turtles, including tagging procedures. The afternoon covered hatchery establishment and procedures, with practice on filling out monitoring forms.

Day 3: A hands-on demonstration on identifying and tracking sea turtle nests was conducted. Participants practiced locating a simulated nest and learned the techniques for transferring eggs to a hatchery.

Outputs:

  • Thirty participants from five barangays were trained, preparing them to join the Bantay Pawikan monitoring team.
  • Participants are now equipped to establish and operate in-situ and ex-situ hatcheries.

Challenges:

Unfavorable weather conditions hindered actual monitoring activities, necessitating indoor demonstrations.

Lessons Learned:

Awareness about sea turtles is limited among locals, highlighting the need for continued information, education, and communication (IEC) activities.

Community Impact:

The training fostered a deeper understanding of sea turtle conservation, preparing local community members to actively participate in protecting these vital species and their habitats.

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