MANILA, Philippines – The local government of El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental is considering creating a turtle sanctuary after pawikan or sea turtle eggs were found in a coastal area there.
Seventy-one sea turtles or "pawikan" were hatched and returned to the sea on Sunday, a month after they were found in a coastal area in Barangay Sinaloc, El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental.
The sea turtle hatchlings were set free after caretakers measured and counted them. According to caretakers, the hatchlings seemed strong and healthy, and thus have a good chance of survival.
The eggs were discovered buried in the sand in February, and local officials placed a tire and a small fence around where they were buried by a mother turtle to prevent damage and poaching.
Female hawksbill turtles, locally known as pawikan, are known to lay eggs where they were also originally hatched. Female adults typically nest every two to three years, and eggs incubate for close to two months.
Hawksbills, according to the World Wildlife Fund, are considered "critically endangered" and are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
They are hunted for their colored and patterned shells, which are highly valuable and sold as "tortoiseshell" in markets.