A ‘Laudato Si’ afternoon with sea turtles

A ‘Laudato Si’ afternoon with sea turtles

March 15, 2024

Pope Francis’s “Laudato Si” pulsated with vigorous life at the Pawikan Hatchery (PAWICARE) and West Philippine Sea, San Narciso, Zambales last February 22, 2024.

The Board of Trustees ans staff of the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association of the Philippines, Inc. (KCFAPI), including its Spiritual Director Msgr. Pepe Quitorio, after declaring a brief respite from its regular monthly meeting at the scenic mini-forest called Hiyas ng Kalikasan, nestled right in the heart of San Narciso, Zambales, trooped to PAWICARE to listen to lectures about sea turtles (“pawikans) and to witness the release of ninety (90) newly-born hatchlings.

Thanks to environmentalists Mayor La Rainne Abad-Sarmiento, Giovanni Resolme of the municipality’s Tourism Office and PAWICARE President Ray Relaniza, Sr. for the informative lectures!

After the lectures, the eager Knights walked toward the shore to witness the release of hatchlings by PAWICARE’s fishermen-sea rangers, commencing with Msgr. Pepe Quitorio’s prayer of thanksgiving for the hatchlings and a prayer for safety in their homeward journey.

What are sea turtles?

Sea turtles are reptiles, a clan of vertebrate animals that have survived for more than 200 million years and have been alive longer than mammals, birds, crocodiles, snakes, and lizards.

Marine scientists say that sea turtles are one of the very few animals that eat seagrass. Sea grass needs to be constantly cut short to be healthy, and sea turtles cut the grass short and help maintain the health of the seagrass.

Sea grass beds are important because they provide breeding and nurturing grounds for many species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Without sea grass feeds, many marine species that we humans harvest can be lost. The food chain will be prejudiced. It is therefore important to protect and preserve sea turtles. Seven species of sea turtles are threatened with extinction because of poaching, egg gathering, slaughter, illegal fishing and ocean pollution.

Lower temperatures, stronger waves and longer nights usher the sea turtles nesting season in the coastal barangays of Zambales and several Western Luzon coasts. San Narciso, Zambales is one of the only three areas in Western Luzon coasts where an ongoing pawikan protection and conservation program can be found.

By dictates of nature, mother sea turtles after traveling in so many parts of the world’s oceans, return to their birthplace to lay their eggs and marine scientists call this process “natal homing” or “natal philopatry.”
I call this “natal homing” one of God’s miracles.

TARA NA! Let us, between October and March of every year, visit PAWICARE, San Narciso, Zambales!

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