BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi — A fisher from Barangay Suwang Kagang surrendered a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) after it got accidentally entangled in his net while fishing in Bongao Bay in Tawi-Tawi on November 19.

The Bongao-based fisher immediately reported the incident to the office of the Provincial Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy of Tawi-Tawi District II. The said species was kept for 24 hours before the office was able to assess its condition.

After a thorough assessment, the species was found to be healthy, measuring 16.5 inches in length and 16 inches in width. The PENREO then released the species to the shores of Baywalk, Barangay Sanga-Sanga.

“As vicegerent, freeing this species is a fulfillment of the covenant of peace with other creations. Enjoying their freedom and fundamental rights to live freely,” PENREO Jonel I. Mohammad Monel remarked.

Moreover, in support during the release were a team from the Biodiversity, Ecosystems, Research and Development Services (BERDS) headed by Biodiversity Management Resource Division Chief Baharodin B. Baolo, and Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PhilBio) headed by Lisa J. Paguntalan.

The technical team who successfully conducted the assessment and release of the said species was headed by Community ENRE Officer Abdulmukim J. Maruji with Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist Al-Hazien T Abdulsani, Chief of Forest Management Services Ernest Sali, Ecosystem Management Specialist II Mohammad Alih B. Mali Jr., Forester I Yunifadzmal Ong and staff from Provincial ENRE Office DMO III Juvert Irwin Lance D.C Bermas, DMO II Shaleeca Myra V. Sali, EMS II Radzmalyn B. Mohammad Monel, and Abduraop Tamano.

Green sea turtles are herbivores and eat seagrasses and algae. They help maintain healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs by preventing overgrowth and recycling nutrients. This, in turn, provides food and habitat for several other marine species and helps balance marine food webs and nutrients. These species are protected by Republic Act No. 8485, otherwise known as the Philippine Animal Welfare Act of 1998 and other allied laws.