Rey Anthony Chiu
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 21, 2012 (PIA) – Had it happened somewhere else, where communities still eat sea-turtle meat, the fisherman who has hooked a hawksbill could have served an exotic food for his family’s dinner, or sold the endangered animal in the black market and pocketed a sizable sum.
But in Jagna town, and elsewhere in the southern Bohol coastal communities, fishermen and the families know the stiff penalties of possession, slaughter of either hawksbills, green turtles or leatherbacks: the often sighted sea turtles in Bohol.
Apart from that, these fishermen know that their hometowns are actively engaged or poised to be into eco-tourism tourism activity, which puts sea turtles, dolphins, whales and their pristine dive sites as come-ons to tourists.
That last May 13, when a fisherman hooked a young sea turtle, he attempted to dislodge the hook so he could unceremoniously release the turtle out to sea.
Noting that the turtle has swallowed the line and that dislodging the hook proved futile, he brought the distressed animal to shore and immediately called Physalus.
Physalus is a foreign non government organization implementing the Large Marine Project in Bohol.
Aside from research and documentation of Bohol’s large marine animals, Physalus also extends technical assistance to dolphin, whale and sea turtle rescue, along with a local Bohol Rescue Unit for Marine Mammals (BRUMM), Bohol Environment and Management Unit, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, BFAR, MLGUS and other non government organizations with similar goals.
The young hawksbill sea turtle is listed in the Convention of International Treaties on Endangered Species (CITES) as critically endangered, according to Physalus’ Caitlin Birdsall.
Upon receiving the animal, Physalus veterinarians brought the animal for an x-ray and found the hook snagged in the animal’s opening of the stomach.
Physalus marine biologists monitored the animal for several days and Dr. Alessandro Ponzo anesthesized the turtle to attempt the removal of the hook.
Vets inserted a small tube down the turtle’s threat to dislodge the hook, but unfortunately, the hook was lodged too deep that it was impossible to remove the hook without significantly damaging the lining or the animal’s stomach or esophagus, reported Birdsall.
Considering the lack of equipment available and the potential risk to the turtle, surgery was not an option, she stressed.
Physalus experts also said they deemed that the turtle had a better chance of survival by leaving the hook in place, while they administered antibiotics to the turtle to reduce the potential for infection.
The turtle’s coping behavior and health was monitored for the next ten days, and when it was noted that the animal was feeding normally and appeared in good health, the team decided for a quick release as the best option for this turtle.
It just swam away quickly, a very good indication that it was already okay, Birdsall said. (30)