Personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Cagayan Valley release 20 baby sea turtles into the Aparri coast in Cagayan on Monday, Feb. 14.(Photo courtesy of DENR-Region 2)

By Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine News Agency Stringer and Philippine Daily Inquirer Correspondent

TUGUEGARAO CITY—Twenty baby Olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) were released to their natural habitat on the coasts of Aparri town, Cagayan province, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Cagayan Valley announced on Tuesday (Feb. 15).

The newly hatched sea turtles or pawikan crawled from the sandy beach to the waters off Barangay Punta, where they were born, according to Gwendolyn Bambalan, DENR regional executive director.

In November last year, an adult female Olive ridley turtle was found along the village’s shoreline while looking for a nesting place.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies Olive ridley sea turtles as vulnerable, which means the species is threatened and considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, Bambalan said.

Under the DENR’s updated national list of threatened Philippine fauna and their categories, this marine species is considered endangered, she added.

Bambalan called on the local government and communities in the coastal towns to protect and conserve the coastal and marine ecosystems.

“Collecting, hunting, trading and possessing of wildlife and their by-products and derivatives are punishable under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act,” she said.#