A local tourist named Donna who went with friends to visit Guimaras province in Western Visayas to enjoy its beaches and have fun via island-hopping found to her consternation that some enterprising locals were using a “pawikan” to lure tourists to have photo opportunities with the sea turtle for a fee of P50 per person.
When they reached the last island of the island-hopping tour, the Natago Island, Donna said their boatman told them they could take pictures with a sea turtle.
They were excited, she said, but the excitement immediately turned to dismay when Donna noticed that something’s not right with the turtle. She noticed that a hole was drilled on the turtle’s shell and a rope was attached to it.
Donna said she decided to take some underwater photos of the “pawikan” using her GoPro camera and was shocked to find out that the sea turtle’s hind legs were also tied with the rope so it can’t swim away.
“I saw this long rope floating just after the turtle and I thought it was just nothing. As I came closer, I was surprised that its shell has a hole and that the long rope was attached to it. I pity the turtle and decided to take a picture underwater using my GoPro and as I review the pictures I was shocked to see this. I think its the turtle’s legs tied together so it can’t swim away,” she said.
Donna posted on Facebook the photos she took with an appeal to spread them online until it reaches the proper authorities; in this case the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Responding to Donna’s post, the DENR-PENRO (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office) Guimaras dispatched a team and immediately proceeded to Natago Beach Resort to rescue the pawikan, but it was no longer there when the team arrived. They were told the sea turtle had broken free.