By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
BUTUAN City – Environment officials and marine turtle conservationists expressed concerns over the rising tides which they blamed for failed incubations of hawksbill sea turtle eggs in Misamis Oriental.
Data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Gingoog showed that the number of turtle hatchlings has decreased because the rising tides have submerged nesting sites of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate) especially Gingoog Bay.
“The rise of tide brought about by climate change has drastically affected the hawksbill turtle nesting sites throughout Misamis Oriental. This was not a huge concern for the marine turtle conservation in this area years ago but since 2018 we have monitored an increase in the number of spoiled eggs from the nesting sites that were flooded by the tides,” said Virgilio Alemana Jr., chief for coastal management of the Cenro in Gingoog.
In August, Alemana said, an entire turtle nest in Salay town was submerged in water because of the high tide, spoiling all the eggs that were supposed to hatch this month.
“We recorded about 57 hatchlings released in Salay town. Unfortunately, more than half were spoiled due to the rising sea waters,” he said.
In Magsaysay town where 612 hectares have been declared as a critical habitat for hawksbill sea turtles since 2012 by the DENR, an egg number decline has also been recorded.
Rolando Pagara, a councilor of Candiis village, blamed the rising tides on climate change.
He said that in August, the sea level rose about 2.2 meters above normal level due to strong winds, flooded a nesting site.
Only 50 of 115 eggs made it, said Pagara.
Pagara said the tides also suddenly rose 2.7 meters high in July 12 and July 13 along Misamis Oriental’s coastline, wiping out turtle nesting sites.
One nest alone, he said, had 120 eggs but only five survived.
Another had 153 eggs but only 40 made it, he said.
“Right now our solution to the problem is to transfer the eggs to safer areas,” said Alemana.
For instance, about 165 hawksbill turtle eggs were moved to safety from the nest along the Duka Bay beach July 28. About 150 successfully hatched and was released.