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Turtle Islands is part of the Sulu Archipelago which is composed of approximately 400 islands of varying shapes and sizes. It is located at the southwestern tip of the Philippines, about 1,000 km southwest of Manila. The municipality of Turtle Islands is right at the edge of the international treaty limits separating the Philippines and Malaysia. The group of islands, namely, Boan, Lihiman, Langaan, Great Bakkungan, Taganak, and Baguan, is situated south of Palawan, northwest of the Tawi-Tawi mainland and northeast of Sabah, Malaysia. The islands have an aggregate land area of 308 hectares. The smallest island, the Langaan measures about 7 hectares, while the largest, the Taganak Island, is about 116 hectares.
It was proclaimed as Wildlife Sanctuary under Proclamation No. 171 on August 26, 1999 and identified as Extremely High (EH) for biodiversity conservation. On May 31, 1996 a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of Malaysia was signed declaring Turtle Islands as Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA) aiming for the conservation and protection of the area. Turtle Islands WS is regarded as the only major nesting ground (with more than 1,000 nesters annually of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the whole ASEAN Region. There are only 10 remaining nesting sites worldwide. The Hawksbill Turtle(Eretmochelys imbricata) also occur but with a low density nesting in contrast to the Green Turtle. Worldwide, marine turtle populations have critically decline hence the CITES-IUCN has declared all species of marine turtle endangered.
Turtle Islands WS is regarded as the only major nesting ground (with more than 1,000 nesters annually of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the whole ASEAN Region. There are only 10 remaining nesting sites worldwide. Around Great Bakkungan Island, the Malay Box Turtle which was never seen at other islands has been observed visiting its shores. Presence of sea snakes and terrestial snakes have also been recorded in the island.
Locally, the Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro- proclaimed marine and national park possess a wide array of habitats which are valuable for scientific studies and a perfect destination for environmental tours. Numerous species of fauna and flora are discovered inhabiting the sandy beaches, beach forests, coral reefs, algae flat, mangroves and sea grass of the reef. The reef's underwater terrain boasts for its unique coral walls, caves and drop offs. They are home to some species of mantas, sharks, school of jacks and snappers, and groups of tropical aquarium fishes and hundreds more marine species. The island as well serves as a nesting ground for numerous species of migratory and resident breeder birds, and a rich territory of endemic wildlife and plant life species such as Nicobar pigeons, sea turtles, sea grass and algae.