By Oscar C. Breva
for MindaNews .
DAVAO City — In early April, Fermin Edillon got an urgent call from Gelaine Arguillas of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-11) asking of the private marine sanctuary he manages to temporarily house a wounded guest.
Some Agdao fisherfolk in Davao City discovered floating off the sea in front of their village an injured hawksbill turtle (mistakenly reported as a green turtle) that they brought to the barangay hall. The local DENR thought it best to rehabilitate the wounded amphibian at the Aboitiz CleanEnergy Park, a privately-owned pawikan sanctuary in Punta Dumalag, Davao City so they called Edillon for assistance.
The park was at least ready for another visitor to add to its three other resident turtles: an adult hawksbill and two olive ridleys. The facility still had one empty tank and the one that City Hall donated that is being used by the second ridley. For his special guest, Fermin put her to this tank that the ridley turtle occupied beside the shore so she can hear the sound of waves nearby. The ridley will have to share the other tank of the first ridley turtle farther inside the park.
Fermin, who is at the same time the Community Relations head of Davao Light & Power Company, an Aboitiz company, was not prepared to see what he saw when the newcomer arrived at the park.
She was huge. Almost fully grown at about a meter or more, the turtle’s shell or carapace alone measured 90 centimeters, bigger than the park’s resident hawksbill.
According to Arguillas, chief of the Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section of DENR-12, embedded on its severely inflamed neck – the size of a tenpin bowling ball – and lodged just at the point where her neck joins her shell was a spear shaft with only about less than an inch protruding from her wound. The inflammation was so big that the turtle code-named by the park as ‘Agdao’ (to track where she was found) could not turn her head that was already angled from her body when they found her.
Dr. Ken Lao, the retained veterinarian of the park was perturbed when he examined the turtle, a female, the next day on April 5. The rear end of the spear itself was already bent that it must have caused the turtle a lot of pain as she struggled. The shaft may have been caught against her shell bending it by her sheer strength or power. Lao feared that some of her organs may have been injured.
Agdao is the second turtle that suffered from human abuse or carelessness Fermin and the park caretaker, Roche (pronounced “Rochie”) Manid, have taken in. The first, the olive ridley who gave up her tank for Agdao, was very weak when a Davao citizen gave her to the park last December 2017. When Roche nursed this turtle code-named ‘Crocky’ because she came from Sonny Dizon’s Davao Crocodile Park, she eventually excreted from her bowels two large plastic materials. Plastics littering the seas have been known to kill marine wildlife that mistakes these for food and ‘Crocky’ was just one of them.