RESCUED SEA TURTLE. Personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) prepare to bring back a rescued Olive Ridley sea turtle to its habitat in Sasmuan, Pampanga on Saturday (Dec. 11, 2021). Fisherman Nimrod Castro of Barangay San Jose in Lubao, Pampanga found the turtle caught in his fishing net while sailing along the tributary of Pampanga River and turned it over to the DENR. (Photo courtesy of DENR-3)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – A concerned citizen of Lubao town, this province has turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provincial office here a vulnerable Olive Ridley sea turtle over the weekend.

In a social media post on Monday, Laudemir Salac, chief of the DENR Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), said fisherman Nimrod Castro of Barangay San Jose found the turtle caught in his nylon fishing net while sailing along the tributary of Pampanga River, between the boundary of Hermosa, Bataan and Lubao, Pampanga on Saturday.

The turtle was turned over and released back into the water on the same day.

Salac said it had a carapace length of 72 centimeters and width of 67 centimeters and was released without tagging.

“Since the turtle was in good health condition, we immediately released it back to its habitat at the Bangkung Malapad in Sasmuan town,” he said.

Sasmuan Bangkung Malapad was earlier declared by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu as a critical habitat and ecotourism area.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Olive Ridley turtles are found worldwide but listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Paquito Moreno, executive director of the DENR in Central Luzon, appealed to the public to immediately report to environment authorities any wildlife sighting and encounter to avert potential danger and threat to their population.

“We see this visit of marine turtle in the coastal waters of Pampanga as a good sign that our efforts in cleaning and rehabilitating Manila Bay are making a positive result," he said.

The 24-kilometer coastline of Pampanga is part of the 190-kilometer long Manila Bay coastline.

Moreno also encouraged the public to be vigilant in monitoring and reporting any illegal trading and online selling of wildlife to penalize perpetrators who destroy biodiversity and the environment. (PNA)