Sat. Sep 25th, 2021

COTABATO CITY – At least six small sea otters, a never before seen species in the Philippines, were spotted in the coasts of Taganak Island, a cluster-component of Turtle Islands, in Tawi-Tawi.

Tawi-Tawi’s District-1 Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) chief Abdulmukim Maruji said the otters, spotted on the island on May 15, 17, and 20, were identified as smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata).

“So far, we don’t have a record of this species in the Philippines, this is the first time we saw such kind in the country,’’ Maruji said in a report to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy-BARMM here on Saturday.

He added that the particular otter species are existing in Sarawak, Malaysia.

“They (sea otters) might be drifted in the island, they might also be exploring for new habitat because they were disturbed, or looking for food,” Maruji said.

He said the newly seen otters play a vital role and adds to the rich biodiversity of Tawi-Tawi but are vulnerable to being endangered.

“If we would not protect them, they might be put in danger,” Maruji said.

At present, the CENRO is coordinating with the Turtle Islands’ Protected Area Supervisor Office under Region 9 and to other concerned agencies to ensure the protection of the creatures.

“While they are in Tawi-Tawi, or whether they stay here for good, we will ensure they will be protected,” Maruji said. (PNA)

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