Giant leatherback sea turtle found dead in Camarines Sur

ALBAY, Philippines (UPDATED) – A giant leatherback male sea turtle locally called here as pawikan was found dead along the seashore of Barangay Caorasan, Bula town in Camarines Sur by a local fisherman on Sunday, July 28.

The giant male pawikan with a length of 138 centimeters and a weight of 200 kilograms was found by local fisherman Tirso Renegado.

According to Renegado's report to Henry Bismonte, the municipal environment and natural resources officer (MENRO) of Bula town, the pawikan was already dead and entangled with rope when he found it.

Ecosystems Management Specialist (EMS) II Werson Amante and EMS I Norielet Reciproco said that the cause of death could have been drowning as the pawikan failed to resurface for oxygen.

It was also believed that there was an attempt to catch the marine turtle, but since it was heavy, those who wanted to catch it might have backed off and opted to abandon the giant leatherback sea turtle.

Residents buried the carcass of the pawikan some 200 meters off the shoreline of Barangay Caraosan.

On Monday, August 5, the National Museum of the Philippines exhumed the carcass of the pawikan.

Gil Aromin, executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol, said that the official of the National Museum coordinated with their office and the local government of Bula to unearth the carcass of the giant leatherback sea turtle.

Angel Bautista, acting deputy director general for administration of the National Museum of the Philippines, conducted the exhumation of the pawikan for scientific and exhibition purposes.

"The taxidermy has been done yesterday on the pawikan's body through mounting or stuffing for the purpose of display and study," Aromin said.

He added: "Moreover, the pawikan is an important addition to the National Museum of Natural History's Zoological Reference Collection for further research."

DENR Bicol urged the public to report such incidents and turn over any wildlife to proper authorities for proper handling and releasing to their natural habitat.

The environment department is also conducting a thorough information, education, and communication campaign across the regions to intensify public awareness on protecting wildlife. – Rappler.com