(UPDATED) Picture posted on social media, man riding on sea turtle went viral, criticized by netizens.
A sea turtle caught in Samar went viral on social media. Measures six feet long and three feet wide, tied to a bamboo post, picture posted on Facebook page caught the attentions of many netizens. The species have been identified as endangered, so then must be protected and treated well.
A former barangay official in Marabut Town, Samar Province caught a picture riding on the sea turtle gone viral on the social networking site Facebook, however Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR does not hold him liable for his act.
The official was identified as Jose Lastimado. DENR assistant regional director for technical services, Carlo Tuballa stated, Lastimado did not mean to harm the sea creature and pointed out that he would have been charged with violating Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which carries a penalty of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of P20,000.
Atty. Danilo Suarez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, community environment and natural resources office in Samar claimed, pawikan was caught through a fish net around 1:30 am by a certain Jessy Amora, kilometer away from the shoreline of the village, August 5.
Sea turtle sometimes called marine turtles mostly found in the waters over continental shelves and considered as endangered species. They grow so large because of the immense size of their habitat which is the ocean. They are much bigger than land tortoises because they directly correlated with the vastness of the ocean and traveled such far distances. Sea turtles also acquire more room to live, this enables more room for growth.
This creatures takes decades to reach sexual maturity and the adult female returns to land at night to nest. Though it is illegal to hunt this endangered species, they are caught worldwide. Some caught them for food, and describe as exotic delicacies. Its skin is used for making shoes and assorted leather goods, while coastal people gather sea turtle eggs for consumption. Others used tortoiseshell for both decoration and health benefits. Almost thousands of sea turtles were killed in the year 2007 in Bay of Bengal after netting.
They play a significant role in the ecosystem, critical to them as well as to humans. They are the one who constantly cuts the sea grass across the sea floor, help maintain the health of the sea grass beds that provide breeding and developmental grounds for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Climate change may sometimes cause a threat to this species.
To protect such species, authorities conducted investigation after photo squatting and riding on sea turtle went viral. DENR Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca then issued a directive, requesting field staff to step up watch in coastal areas. This is to ensure that people do not catch and slaughter endangered species like sea turtles, locally known as pawikan.
Sibucca told reporters, “It’s good that someone informed our forester who advised locals to release the captured pawikan back to the sea. Fishermen would have slaughtered the reptile if authorities were not informed.”
A penalty will be imposed by DENR to whoever caught riding, tying or even sitting on sea creatures, Under sections 27 and 28 of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Act. After the incident and thorough investigation, the sea turtle was released back to the sea. IMAGE/Facebook