Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi

Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi

Turtle Islands, also known as Turtle Isles, is a 5th class municipality composed of a seven remote group of islands in the province of Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines. The islands are located at the southwestern tip of the country, at the edge of the international treaty limits separating the Philippines and Malaysia. The seven islands are Boan, Lihiman, Langaan, Great Bakkungan, Taganak, Baguan an one nameless island. [cite web
title = Philippine Turtle Islands
url = http://www.oneocean.org/ambassadors/track_a_turtle/tihpa/pti.html
accessdate = 2008-03-01

According to the 2000 census, the population of the 5 permanently inhabited islands is 3,600 people in 646 households. With a land area of only 3.08 square kilometers, the islands have a population density of 1168 persons per km². – much higher than the national average of 276 persons per km².

Access to the Turtle Islands is difficult, as there are no regular means of transportation to the area. Turtle Islands is politically subdivided into 2 barangays: Taganak Poblacion and Likud Bakkao.

The islands, together with Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi, were formerly held by the United Kingdom which administered them as part of British North Borneo, the current Sabah state of Malaysia. Following a treaty between the Philippines and United Kingdom in 1948 regarding territorial boundaries, the UK turned over seven of the Turtle Islands (or Turtle Isles as the UK call it) and Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi to the Philippines. Upon transfer, Philippine president Diosdado Macapagal hoisted the flagpole as well as placing the marker in commemoration of that said event. The remaining three Turtle Islands which were not turned over by UK are now part of Malaysia, and are now the Malaysian Turtle Islands National Park.

Turtle Sanctuary

Together with three islands of neighbor country Malaysia and the surrounding coral waters, Turtle Islands are the only living area of the Green Sea Turtles in Asia and in the whole world. In 1996 the islands were declared a Protected area by the government of the Philippines, the only way to guarantee the continued existence of the green sea turtles and their nesting sites.

For five islands the government decided for special protection zones. Within this zones only scientific and conservation activities are allowed. In other zones there are certain rules in order to prevent too much impact by people on the environment and the turtles. Visiting these zones is only possible with strict guidance and under supervision of the staff of the officials of the government.

For a successful conservation and protection program the support of the locals is very important. Fishing is for most of them the most important activity. Hunting the sea turtles and collecting the turtle eggs for food, has always been a welcome possibility for additional income. At the end of August to December the turtles come by hundreds out of the surrounding coastal waters to lay and dig their eggs into the sand. The staff of the Conservation Project succeeded in convincing the locals of the need to minimize their collecting activities. Local men, women and children, are now involved and help with the protection activities. [cite web
title = Turtle Islands in the Philippines
url = http://www.philippines.hvu.nl/animals10.htm
accessdate = 2008-03-01


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