Cyclists Clean up Coastline to Protect Sea Turtles in Zambales
When the pandemic commenced, public transportation was among the first sectors to shut down to lessen the transmission of the virus. To augment the lack of public transport, those who can, procured bicycles to be used in their daily errands, especially in going to work. Months later, when public transportation has slowly resumed, still with health requirements imposed, a lot of people would use their bicycles for recreational cycling or for working out.
A lot of cycling groups were also formed. While others are purely for recreational or working out purposes a group of cyclists in Zambales, Philippines has taken a different route.
The cyclists and the sea turtles
Last May 2021, this group of cyclists called Zambales Cycling Network along with Humanists Alliance Philippines International – Zambales Chapter, decided to not take the usual concrete road they use to, but chosen to go to the coastline of Zambales to pick up trash.
“We have decided to do the cleanup because thought that the trash we have collected [along the shoreline] can go to our oceans which will damage it,” said Garry Rabang, a cyclist and an active member of HAPI Zambales chapter.
“We have also sorted the trash we have collected to identify what type of trash is more likely to reach our oceans and to also know where are they coming from,” Rabang added in Tagalog.
Timely done in celebration of the World Turtle’s Day, Rabang said that Zambales coastline is among the few areas that are nesting grounds for sea turtle which are highly affected by the marine plastic pollution.
Around the world, sea turtle populations is declining due to various reasons and existing threats such as egg poaching, beach developments, climate change, and other reasons including marine debris such as trash.
In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has classified three out of seven sea turtle species as “endangered” and “critically endangered” while the other three is tagged “vulnerable” and the other one as data-efficient.
Leaving no trace
Aside from cleanups, the group of cyclists are also conscious of the environment.
They have observed that tourists often leave nature spots with wastes so they decided that every time they go to a “nature spot” they would collect waste and clean up the area, Oscar Concepcion of the Zambales Cycling Network shared.
In another television interview, Anthony Van Catayong, lead convener of HAPI-Zambales encouraged everyone that the best thing everyone can do is to not litter.
“If we cannot clean up [our environment, at least] don’t litter around,” he said asking everyone to do their share in protecting the environment.
Catayong also encouraged everyone to donate to organizations pursuing efforts for the conservation of sea turtles especially in Zambales and emphasized that we need to have a collaborative effort in engaging in this endeavor.
“The environment provides us with food, shelter. This is where we live. It is very important that we take care of it because we live here and if is destroyed, we have nowhere to go,” Catayong further explained.
The cyclists are planning to do the clean-up in a monthly basis and also venture into mangrove planting to not only help the environment, but to also help in the revival or local sustainable tourism.