Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary

turtle islands wildlife sanctuary
Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary | Image Source: DENR Region 9 fb/DENR9Official

Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary, Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi

The Turtle Islands, comprised of nine islands, is located at the southwestern tip of the Philippines and north of Borneo. Six of these islands (Taganak, Baguan, Boan, Great Bakkungan, Lihiman, and Langaan) are within Philippine territory while the remaining three (bakkungan Kechil, Gulisan, and Selingan) are under the jurisdiction of Malaysia.

Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area

In 1996, a bilateral agreement between the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia established the Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA), the first and only trans-boundary protected area for marine turtles in the world.

The Philippine Turtle Islands were then declared as a protected area called the Turtle Island Wildlife Sanctuary (TIWS) by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 171 on August 26, 1999, pursuant to Republic Act No. 7586, also known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 and subsequently legislated under the Expanded NIPAS (E-NIPAS) by virtue of RA 11038 or the ENIPAS Act of 2018.

Protected Area Status in the Philippines

Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary

  • is globally recognized as the most important nesting ground for two species of marine turtles, the endangered Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  • 11th nesting area in the world;
  • one of the remaining major nesting areas of Green Sea Turtle in Southeast Asia.
  • an estimated 80% of all Green Sea Turtles present in the Philippines are nesting within TIWS.

Baguan island is recognized as its strict protection zone and is open only to protection, monitoring, and research activities.

Apart from its importance to marine turtles, preliminary biological studies of TIWS during the early 1990s indicate that the area supports the remarkable biodiversity of both terrestrial and marine flora and fauna.

  • Giant Moray (Gymnothorax javanicus)
  • Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis woodi)
  • Yellow Boxfish (Ostracion cubicus)

Mud Volcano, Lihiman island, Turtle Islands

Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary also hosts diverse marine resources with 4 seagrass species and 87 fish species on record and excellent coral conditions on some areas which could produce 884.48 kilograms of fish per hectare.

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