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Turtles in Zambales


I had planned my new years to be one of quiet reflection, some writing, as well as a time for some un-distracted business planning. I has booked myself into a resort in Pundekit,San Anthony Zambales. This beautiful area along the south China Seas is about a hour drive north of Subic Bay and is the home of a number of different resorts. New Years is often associated with rebirth even the symbolism of father time leaving and a new baby arriving, I happen to be lucky and happened upon the perfect way to start the countdown to new years. On New Years eve right before sunset, I saw a man walking along the beach carrying a wash tub. Gathering around him was a group of children trying to peer into his tub,adults were also tagging along. Reaching a somewhat smooth turtlessection of beach he set his tub down and the children dropped to their knees and gather around it. The mans name is Mike Robertson and he is from the Environmental Protection Agency of Asia, A non profit group involved in environmental projects. Mike is responsible for the Pundekit Turtle Conservatory and his tub contained 154 olive ridley turtles that had hatched early morning.


The west coast of Luzon is the nesting home of a number of marine turtle species. Like many people around the world, the people of the Philippines used to capture turtles for their meat and shells as well as collecting the eggs. Now public awareness  has caused that to change. The Pawikan festival held in Bataan each November is a prime example. A four day event celebrating turtle conservation,with dance competition, ecology contest, musical performances and other events leading to a ceremonial release of  turtles. The release in Bataan are some of the earliest hatchings of the season. As early as July a turtle may show up to lay a clutch of eggs but hatching are rare, it may be that the bad storms has cause salt water to enter the eggs or it may be they were not fertilized. Turtles start nesting in October according to Mike, he said that there is often days between finds but by the end of November and early December there may be five or more nest found each day and during that time he often finds two even three nest in the section of beach he patrols. By the end of December the number of new nest drops off. While it is mostly the Olive Ridleys that nest here, there are some hawk bills. In past years there have been some green turtles but so far this year none have been found.



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