Underwater Living Treasures: the Four Turtles of Palawan
According to Chinese Feng Shui experts, water is the dominant element for 2013. Did you know that turtles are considered as the luckiest water creatures in Chinese mythology?
Foreign and local tourists go to Palawan for Ecological tourism. Aside from the endemic birds and crocodiles, turtles are the object of fascination and wonder in Palawan.
THE FOUR TURTLES OF PALAWAN
The Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Known as “Kutuan”, this variety of turtles are abundant in Cuyo, Palawan up to the far south in Tawi-Tawi.
Green turtles are usually found in tropical and subtropical waters. They mainly stay on continental coasts and islands, are generally herbivores, and gets off every day by feeding on various marine flora. Baby green turtles eat small animals though.
Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate)
Commonly referred to as “Pawikan”, the Hawksbill Turtles can also be found on Turtle Islands in Palawan. They are among the most endangered turtle species in the world so the local authorities are tight when it comes to these creatures.
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At present, the hawksbills are few in numbers even in highly protected sanctuaries. They thrive on tropical waters and prefer to keep nestle on shallow areas which have abundant corals. They feed on sponges and other marine flora.
Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
Loggerhead turtles have mighty jaws as one of their distinguishing characteristics. They can live on different kinds of waters; they normally swarm on temperate waters and tropical oceans.
Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Natives in Cuyo call them “Kantuhan”. Compares to the other three species, leatherbacks have the thickest skin which allows them to withstand colder waters. Their diet consists of soft-bodied invertebrates like jelly fish and similar mollusks.
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Turtles represent longevity and wealth. They can live for a few hundred years which makes them the best symbol for good health. However, their existence is currently endangered because of their very meaning in Chinese fortune telling. They are sold to wealthy businessmen in the black market pet trades.
Since 2009, the National government along with various local municipalities in Palawan province has focused their efforts on rescuing Philippine forest turtles from illegal smugglers. In August 2012, 39 Philippine forest turtles were confiscated from a traveling Chinese National in Hongkong. They were shipped back to Palawan a few days after.
Dubbed as “The Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines”, Palawan is home to many biological creatures, and among them are the Palawan Turtles. Not everyone is aware of this fact but of all 7 species of turtles in the world, Palawan nestles four of them.
It is indeed a blessing to have them in our shores, and taking care of them is the least we can do to ensure that biological harmony will remain in our islands for the years to come.