Since we shared our pawikan conservation project in Pag-asa, Bagac, Bataan, The Philippines, over 3000 baby turtles, locally known as pawikan, have hatched and were released back into the sea. We cannot say it enough, but thank you very much for your support!
There is noticeable space in the hatchery; previous nests are now empty and our personal family and friends who have supported our cause early have seen their eggs become turtles one by one. Here is the story of how this started.
Some exciting news: Two days ago, we received word from the hatchery nurses that the first nest with a sponsor from our blog has hatched! In the cover of night, a small baby turtle head peaked out of the sand from Nest 70 adopted by Sunny Days with Juliette.
The nest has not yet fully hatched though. Sometimes it takes days, but we were so happy to know these eggs are now turtles! Is there anything more pure than seeing these babies come out of the sand, open their eyes, and walk around for the first time?
The baby turtles are released the same day they are born. It is a bittersweet experience. Who knows what is waiting for them out there? We hope it is success, but this is out of our hands.
We can only do what we can by supporting the nesting efforts and making sure the most number of baby turtles return to the sea. This is an important cause, one that is worthy of our devotion.
Turtles are one of the most important players in a coastal ecosystem. As a result, saving turtles has a positive ripple effect, not only for plants and wildlife but also for the people living in the area. This is how it works:
As you probably know, turtles lay a lot of eggs. This is because even in the best of times, just 1% to 10% of these eggs make it to maturity. But the 90% are far from wasted. Eggs leave nutrients in the sand, as do hatchlings that do not make it – feeding coastal plants in the process. This growth stabilizes beaches and slows down or downright prevents coastal erosion.
A meaty snack
Turtle hatchlings have a tough start in life. After struggling out of their shell, they have an arduous trip to the sea ahead of them. Some reach the water, while others are a valuable source of food for a large variety of animals, which contributes to other wildlife surviving in the area. But even adult turtles are prey to several apex predators out there.
Controlling other sea creatures
Jellyfish, sea sponges, and other sea creatures are some of the main sources of food for turtles. This keeps their populations in check and avoids population explosions of one species at the expense of others. The result is greater biodiversity, which leads to greater resilience of an area against adverse effects such as climate change.
By turtles grazing on seagrass, the seagrass stays healthy. This is important because seagrass is a source of food for many species beyond just turtles. On top of that, seagrass stores carbon and thus contributes to slowing down climate change.
In their long migrations around the world, turtles carry a large variety of creatures around with them. Crustaceans, remoras, algae, they all hitch rides on turtle shells, which helps them spread throughout the ocean. Fish sometimes use turtles to hide from predators, and once turtles surface, they even help birds by giving them a safe spot to land on and rest for a while!
The human element
Turtles hold great cultural significance for many coastal communities around the world. But even ignoring the spiritual and psychological effects turtles have on coastal communities, a thriving turtle population can transform an area economically as well. Diving, turtle watching, and eco-tourism in general help communities improve their economic situation while incentivizing the protection of the local environment.
These are just some reasons why saving turtles is important. Any of these are just scratching the surface, of course, and there is a lot more to learn about why turtles are rightfully referred to as a “keystone species” within an ecosystem.
We will continue to support them in every way we can. Again, thank you very much for your help and we will update each and every one of you once your eggs have become turtles. Even if you are far away, we definitely consider you a part of our community. Many thanks and stay tuned!