20 May 2016

When in Zambales - Releasing Sea Turtles at PawiCare Hatchery



I joined a school field trip a few weeks back not knowing what exactly to expect. The class was all about Legal Ethics but this educational trip was focused mainly on Environmental Ethics. All I know is that we were scheduled to release sea turtles or pawikans. Little did I know that this experience would become one of the most meaningful in my life.

When in Zambales - Releasing Sea Turtles at PawiCare Hatchery
PawiCare Hatchery at San Narciso, Zambales

We visited several places at San Antonio and San Narciso at Zambales, such as Casa San Miguel and Hiyas ng Kalikasan, before heading to Pawicare. We arrived at Brgy. La Paz at San Narciso a little after 4 in the afternoon. We then had an orientation about PawiCare and sea turtles. We were also informed about safety reminders in handling the baby sea turtles or hatchlings.

When in Zambales - Releasing Sea Turtles at PawiCare Hatchery
Beautiful beach at San Narciso! Too bad we weren't able to swim.

PawiCare is a non governmental organization which aims to protect sea turtles and make their number grow. What amazed me with this group is that most of their volunteers, particularly at San Narciso and also known as La Paz Rangers, were previously poachers. Their prior experience is what made them valuable for this task as it is easy for them to know where exactly the eggs were hatched. Basically, what they do is carefully collect the eggs that were laid. They then transfer it in a secured area wherein they place markers as to the date when the eggs were collected and will be hatched. They make sure that each baby sea turtle lives and release them back to the sea when they have already hatched. Of course, they also aim to educate people about sea turtles, their dwindling numbers, and our part in protecting them.

When in Zambales - Releasing Sea Turtles at PawiCare Hatchery
Where eggs are stored and protected

We were told that hatching starts at around October and ends at around mid April. During our visit last March, we released the last batch to be hatched that month. There were several other batches that should have hatched all throughout April. So you could go to San Narciso between those months to take part in this enlightening endeavor.  I have also learned that only 1% of those released sea turtle gets to survive and they'll be back at the same location to lay eggs in 30 years, that is, if they make it. It is definitely a tough world out there for them. It is nice to know that there are people who care for these creatures and are willing to protect them at all costs.

When in Zambales - Releasing Sea Turtles at PawiCare Hatchery
Our baby Pawi!
When in Zambales - Releasing Sea Turtles at PawiCare Hatchery
When in Zambales - Releasing Sea Turtles at PawiCare Hatchery
Bye little one! :) See you in 30 years!

Anyway, we were asked to wash our hands thoroughly before holding the turtles. We did the releasing of sea turtles at sunset and it was magical! I shared a sea turtle with a classmate because we were too many. This experience is definitely one for the books. It was such a beautiful sight bringing back life to the ocean. I just hope that all of those that we released would make it.

If you want to experience this exciting activity or if you want to volunteer for PawiCare, you may visit them at Purok 5, Brgy. La Paz, San Narciso, Zambales. Check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pawicaresannarcisozambalesPH

XO, Mish


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