BURGOS – The town gets its own share of foreign visitors but these are not foreign tourists but pawikans (sea turtles).
A number of turtles were already found in the town’s coastal area in the past, and last Jan. 28, another sea turtle was found in sitio Cabongaoan, barangay Ilio-ilio here, about 24 kilometers away from the town proper, where she laid more than three hundred eggs and made its nest beside the Bantay Dagat (sea guard) headquarters.
But unlike in the past when residents saw them as a food delicacy on the table (prepared as “tapa” or “giniling”, this time concerned residents have already placed a net around its nest to protect the eggs from many curious folk and visitors.
In the past, the turtle eggs were also sold to foreigners because they reportedly commanded a high price in the market.
Mayor Domingo Doctor said six babies of the mother “pawikan” had been released back to the sea. He said it was obvious that the mother turtle knew where to lay its eggs safely.
Last week, another sea turtle was found in the area.
The mayor identified the turtles as leatherback turtles, belonging to the Olive Ridley species.
Doctor said he also already met with Tanggol Kalikasan (Environment Protector) members and other concerned residents who are willing to help them preserve and protect these marine resources.
“The next thing we will do (now) is enact an ordinance for the protection of sea turtle,” Doctor said. Burgos, a fourth class municipality town, has one coastal barangay which is 12 kilometers long.
The mayor believes that sea turtles come to the town “because it has the finest white sand, much better than Boracay”.
Doctor said he is encouraged to see more people becoming more protective of the turtles. He said he is prepared to give cash incentives to whoever finds turtles or their eggs and report these to him.
To further protect the town’s natural resources, he has also banned the hauling of the town’s quality pebbles, popularly used in landscaping and has set up nightly patrols to stop poachers from China and dynamite fishing in the area. – EVA
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