Constructing climate-resilient hatcheries for endangered sea turtles in the Philippines

close up of a Hawksbill turtle

Referred to as the Philippines’ “last biodiversity frontier,” the province of Palawan is home to many endangered species, including five different species of sea turtles. Three species—the olive ridley, green, and hawksbill sea turtles—are listed as vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered, respectively. El Nido, a municipality of Palawan, has some of the country’s main foraging and nesting habitats for these turtles.

Located in the West Pacific typhoon belt, the Philippines is subject to extreme weather events which have only increased in severity over the last five to 10 years. Severe storms have caused coastal erosion in prime turtle-nesting habitats, and combined with rising sand temperatures, have resulted in decreased turtle egg hatching rates. The poaching of eggs presents an additional threat.

With the support of WWF’s Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund, the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute is partnering with Duli Beach Resort, a member of the El Nido Marine Turtle Conservation Network, to construct climate-resilient hatcheries in four different nesting beaches in El Nido. Constructed out of concrete and partially buried in the sand, these hatcheries are designed to protect nests from weather and climate-related threats and will include weather stations and sensors to monitor the nests’ temperatures in real-time.

Additionally, trained community members and citizen scientists will conduct nightly patrols during the primary hatching seasons of November to February in an effort to involve local communities, raise environmental awareness, and ward off poachers. To further promote awareness within the community, the project is working with the WWF Philippines Education for Sustainable Development program to engage 100 local students in on-the-ground turtle conservation work. Through these community-driven initiatives, this project aims to increase the number of saved nests by at least 30%.