In La Union, turtles are affected by the tourism boom

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A public-private partnership in San Juan, La Union has made it their mission to protect and conserve turtles in San Juan. Photo from CURMA/FACEBOOK

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — With the looming Boracay closure, other beaches across the Philippines are expected to take in the tourists that the island once hosted; one of these that has gained a following over the last few years is San Juan in La Union. Known to be a surfing spot, it has now been home to a variety of resorts, restaurants, and nightspots that Filipinos and foreigners alike go back to.

However, the surge of establishments in the area has prompted concerns. Coastal Underwater Resource Management Actions (CURMA), a public-private partnership among the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Municipality of San Juan, and the Science of Identity Foundation, has made it their mission to protect and conserve turtles in San Juan.

“We had a lot of resorts open up at the beach at night. On the beach, you'd see bright lights, you'll see all the parties going on and turtles are very sensitive to light and to sound,” says Carlos Tamayo, the coordinator of the project. “When the turtles come, they lose their sense of direction … Instead of going to the ocean, they end up going inland and getting lost.”

Tamayo explains that the nesting areas of the turtles are getting smaller and smaller because people are encroaching the spaces. To address this, the project includes searching for eggs and nests early in the morning, around 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., and transferring them to the CURMA hatchery where they can be safer.

Watch the video below to know more about the project: