by Patricia Louisa B. Abaday & Aira May L. PlagaOn the month of love, we imagined receiving flowers, chocolates, hugs, and romantic messages just as how we usually celebrate it. But this time, the Xavier University Biology students went deeper. A deeper kind of love impels individuals to go out into the community and spend time not only for humanity but for the other adorable and significant creatures here on our planet- the turtles. Humans are driven to protect the things they love, so getting to know their world is an initial step—just like when you start courting a girl. Small talk and falling in love sometimes occur at the same moment, so rather than keeping them in our homes and enjoying their rare existence in some containers, it's important first to talk about how they interact within their ecosystems, and how environmental and human activities will affect them. In this way, ignorance won't eventually put them in danger, but the basic knowledge will give them the finest care and security they deserve.
The students dived deeper into the wonders of the ocean, through the Dance of Love: A Mini-talk About Marine Turtles by a marine turtle conservationist and a university alumna, Ms Sue Ong, last February 11, 2023, at 10:30 am in the AVR 1. The students were captivated by how amazing these species are as survival and love are woven into them as a mother, partners, an adult, and offspring.
Life starts for the turtles as eggs, then becoming hatchlings that eventually develop into juveniles and finally grow into an adult. Throughout these stages, we see exhibits of affection among the turtles. For instance, when the mother lays her eggs, she makes sure that they are in the right place—not too close to the water where the eggs may drown and cover enough to keep predators away. In fact, the mother takes time during the last weeks of gestation to search for that certain place. As the speaker said, the mother knows best. However, there are still challenges that the baby turtles face right after hatching, that is, to somehow make it to the ocean, despite the threat of vultures that may devour them. After surviving the crucial trip to the ocean, they then face the challenges of the repelling force of the ocean as well as other predators. Those that survive this eventually grow out and take protection in their shells, but even as adults, they can still fall prey to large shark species and can be affected by other factors such as water pollution and environmental changes.
Ms. Sue Ong passionately shares her experiences in conserving sea turtles.
Biology students actively participated in the Q&As on the conservation initiatives for sea turtles.
There are seven known species of turtles: loggerhead, green turtle, leatherback, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, flatback, and olive ridley, and all of them are considered as endangered species. Their survival rate is already low as it is ranging from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000, which is why we should care for them. Turtles are living beings just like us and they deserve to be loved. Extinction of any of their species would cause losses in the ecosystem. For instance, dune vegetation would lose a major source of nutrients and would neither be as healthy nor as strong to maintain dunes which would eventually cause soil erosion. Turtles also maintain productive coral reef ecosystems. If we could take the time to educate ourselves on how to lessen our contribution to the detriment of their growth rate and if we could extend our consideration and love towards turtles and other marine life, we could give them more capacity to live. There are many ways to start caring for turtles: keeping trash at a minimum, cleaning up beaches, avoiding nesting and hatching turtles, and volunteering are all simple ways we can do to make a difference for marine life.
This talk includes a call to action in addition to raising awareness. Ms Ong has a great opportunity and network as a conservationist to widen her drive. She claimed that although she initially had little interest in them, her passion progressively grew and that will hopefully go the same with the students listening to her for whatever path. It is hoped that people, especially those who live by the coast will be more vigilant because these sea creatures, not only the turtles, deserve a life filled with love and free from fear. Just like a sea turtle, we can all navigate the waves of life's oceans with ease, as we work to survive, grow, and live with a purpose.