Why Is The Pawikan Worth Saving?
The La Union shoreline is home to two pawikan species, namely the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. From September to April of every year, turtles comes to La Union to lay their eggs. Once the baby turtles are born, they find a way to get to the sea where they will begin their grand adventure. When the turtles are older, they return to the beach where they were born to lay eggs anew. These turtles come home to La Union.
However, in the last 4 years, there has been an alarming decline in the number of turtle hatchlings counted along our coastline. From more than 6,000 hatchlings per year, the most recent count reports only 1,600+ hatchlings in the past year.
If this downward trend continues, we will no longer see turtles in La Union's shores in as quick as two years.
The reason for the decline in the number of hatchlings found per year can be attributed to the following factors, which are all brought about by the recent commercial and developmental wave in La Union:
- Bright White Lights - Lighting used for events and concerts disorient the mother turtles, which drives them away. Whether or not they get to safely lay their eggs, we do not know.
- Loud, Booming Music - Sound travels great distances and the vibrations from event music and concerts affect the nesting cycle of the turtles.
- Increase in Foot Traffic - Regrettably, an increase in foot traffic also leads to an increase in trash on the beach.
Why should we save the pawikans?
Sea turtles demonstrate the ultimate lesson of ecology– that everything is connected.
If sea turtles go extinct:
1) Say goodbye to swimming, surfing, snorkeling and all water sports.
Sea turtles eat jellyfish, preventing the large “blooms” of jellyfish – including stinging jellyfish – that are increasingly wreaking havoc on fisheries, recreational and other maritime activities throughout the oceans.
Sea turtles, and many species that are affected by their presence or absence, are an important attraction for marine tourism, a major source of income for many countries
2) Say goodbye to fishes, crabs, shrimps, scallops, mussels, seaweed - no more seafood buffets!
Research has shown that sea turtles often act as keystone species. Seagrass beds grazed by green sea turtles are more productive than those that aren’t. Both of these grazing activities maintain species diversity and the natural balance of fragile marine ecosystems.
Once turtles are gone we will experience declines in all the species whose survival depends on healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs.That means that many marine species that humans harvest would be lost.
3) Say goodbye to the beaches, shorelines, or any land mass with sand by the beach.
Dune vegetation would lose a major source of nutrients and would not be healthy or strong enough to maintain the dunes, allowing beaches to wash away.
Dune plants use the nutrients from turtle eggs to grow and become stronger.As the dune vegetation grows stronger and healthier, the health of the entire beach/dune ecosystem becomes better.
Healthy vegetation and strong root systems hold the sand in the dunes and protect the beach from erosion.As the number of turtles declines, fewer eggs are laid in the beaches, providing less nutrients.
Join La Union Soul by participating in events aimed to spread awareness and action toward the conservation of the pawikans, which then leads to the preservation of our beloved La Union shoreline.
For 2017 and onward, La Union Soul hopes to bring about many positive changes in La Union's ecotourism scene. Here are just some of the ways we can put La Union on the map as a leading example for sustainable ecotourism practices and nature conservation.
You can help this cause today simply by sharing this article on your social media feed. Tell your friends about La Union Soul! Together, we can make the future a beautiful and promising place to live in for turtles and for us all.