CNMI ORGANIZATIONS MOVE TO PROTECT SEA TURTLES

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By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, Dec. 19) - Pictures of green sea turtles and information about their life cycle are featured in the signboards installed yesterday morning in three strategic locations at Obyan Beach, CNMI.

Officials from the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), the Coastal Resource Management Office (CRMO), the Historical Preservation Office (HPO) and Beautify CNMI went to the area to witness and supervise the installation of the three signboards at around 8:30 a.m.

The sea turtle photographs were donated by Dr. Mark Robertson of the Marianas Eye Institute and members of All American Divers.

The signs provide information on green sea turtles and urge the community to help preserve the threatened species that makes Obyan Beach its nesting ground.

CRMO’s Kathy Yuknavage earlier said that many residents and visitors do not fully appreciate the natural, historical and cultural wealth that Obyan Beach has in abundance.

But, she added, it is a good thing that a lot of government agencies, private groups and individuals have started showing an interest in enhancing the wildlife habitat in the area.

Those who went to Obyan Beach to witness the installation of the first sign in the parking area were Yuknavage, CRMO Director John Joyner, MINA Chairman and former Lt Gov. Jesus C. Borja, HPO administrative officer Tony Agulto, archeologist Ronnie Rogers and Beautify CNMI restoration chairman Angelo Villagomez.

Villagomez said this is the first time that MINA, CRMO, HPO and Beautify CNMI have collaborated on a project initiated by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife grant.

The project is to have three phases:

First was the blocking of the beach with used power poles to prevent driving near the coastal area.

Second was the installation of informative signboards.

And third will be the construction of stairs in the area for residents and visitors.

Security guards along roads leading to Obyan Beach have recorded an average of 100 cars packed with tourists that visit on weekly basis.

Most of the tourists visit the area to dive, and dive shops charge them a rate that ranges from US$50 to US$75 per dive.

Rogers said the area is an important historical site.

He said HPO "wants to stabilize the area to protect this historical site."

Rogers said people lived there 3,000 years ago and there were many artifacts dug up in the area.

Besides the ancient latte stones, there could still be a lot of artifacts underground, he said.

The area also has Japanese bunkers containing human bones.

The bones, Roger said, have gradually been exposed due to the erosion of soil during heavy rains.

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