Photo of the day: Davao's Turtle Sanctuary

This gorgeous beach has a SWAT team on the ready to rescue turtle eggs

Erick Dantoc

This cove in Matina Aplaya, Davao has long been a sanctuary for various turtle species, including the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. Eggs laid on the beach and buried under the sand by the turtles or pawikan would then be transferred by the Task Force Pawikan Davao to a hatchery for safety, increasing the survival rate of the turtles to 90 percent.

These days, the sanctuary is now known as the Cleanergy Park, launched by the Aboitiz Group in April 2015. The 8-hectare protected area has rich mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs, making it safe haven not only for turtles, but all kinds of birds, marine life, and flora. The park is open to the public, but visitors to the turtle sanctuary are now controlled to protect the area. Only about 30 people per batch will be allowed to view the turtles, and appointments must be made through Davao Light and Power co., which monitors the pawikan sanctuary. 

Cebu Pacific Air, AirAsia, and Philippine Airlines fly from Manila to Davao daily. Rent a car or hire a taxi to Barangay Matina Aplaya from downtown Davao.

Originally published in InFlight Traveller December 2009 to January 2010. Updated November 2015