The United Nations has declared 2006 the Year of the Turtle in an effort to save the gentle species. Twenty-five countries in the Indian Ocean Southeast Asian (IOSEA) region, including the Philippines, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dedicating 2006 to the protection of sea turtles, locally known as pawikan
5 of the 7 known species of marine turtles in the world are found in the Philippines: the loggerhead, leatherback, olive ridley, hawkbill and green turtle. The IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU is working to conserve six of the world's seven species of marine turtles inhabiting the IOSEA region, including the Flatback turtles (Natator depressus).
1. OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLES (Lepidochelys olivacea) - are famous for their regular nesting on Indian beaches in enormous groups called "arribadas". Beginning around February or March, tens of thousands of these turtles may nest on a single beach in just a few days, though large numbers also perish in offshore fishing nets every year.
2. HAWKBILL TURTLES (Eretmochelys imbracate) - are known for their attractive shell, have a distinct parrot-like beak which helps them eat tough poisonous sponges, helping to keep coral reefs healthy.
3. LOGGERHEAD TURTLES (Caretta caretta) - can crush enormous mollusks with their powerful jaws. Preferring temperate waters, they can travel impressive distances, even crossing the 12,000 km-wide Pacific Ocean.
4. LEATHERBACK TURTLES (Dermochelys coriacea) - are the largest of the marine turtles, growing to nearly a ton. They have tough, rubbery skin instead of a hard shell, allowing them to dive great depths.
5. GREEN TURTLES (Chelonia mydas)- are widespread, preferring tropical and sub-tropical waters. Named after the green color of their body fat, they feed on algae and sea grass very efficiently.