January 27, 2012 (Manila, Philippines) – More than one million green turtle (Chelonia mydas) eggs were laid last year on Baguan Island of Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi, achieving an all-time high since recording of nesting started in 1984, Conservation International (CI) Philippines, citing figures obtained from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), announced.
A total of 14,220 green turtle nests were recorded in Baguan in 2011, breaking the previous record of 12,311 nests in 1995. The 2011 figures translate to some 2,844 nesting green turtles and over 1.44 million turtle eggs laid.
Green turtles are classified as Endangered under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
“1.44 million green turtle eggs in one year is an astounding number for a nesting beach that’s only a little over one kilometer in length. This definitely presents great hope for boosting green turtle populations,” said Romeo Trono, CI Philippines Country Executive Director. “With an average of 90% hatching success and 1% survival rate up to sexual maturity, Baguan in 2011 alone could contribute up to 13,000 to the adult turtle population.”
Figures from the DENR show that since the previous high of 12,311 turtle nests recorded in 1995, Baguan’s nesting records have been declining and dropped to as low as just over 4,000 nests in 2003. Poaching by foreign fishermen, egg harvesting by local communities for food and trade, destruction and disturbance of habitats through illegal fishing methods and weak law enforcement were identified as the causes of the decline in the egg production and sea turtle population in the sanctuary.
“The increasing nest numbers show that when turtles are protected on their nesting beaches and in the water for long enough, they will recover,” said Dr. Bryan Wallace Director of Science for the Marine Flagship Species Program at CI. “The Turtle Islands are a globally important area for green turtles, especially for the West Pacific population, because of the relatively high abundance present and because of increasing protections for turtles in the area.”