Despite that hard exterior, they’re really big softies on the inside and need your protection. This World Turtle Day, be kind to the turtle. I mean, what’s he ever done to you?

Today is World Turtle Day, sponsored yearly since 200 by the American Tortoise Rescue, to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.

Turtle Day is celebrated worldwide in a variety of ways, from dressing up as turtles to saving turtles caught on highways, to research activities.

In Costa Rica authorities are using the day with a special appeal to prevent overfishing and implement a tougher stand against those who violate the laws of preservation.

Turtle species that today are in danger of extinction are the “lora” (ridley) and the “baula” (leatherback) and the “verde” (green) and the “carey” (hawksbill), due to impacts such as global warming but also because of poor fishing practices.

The leader of the Programa de Restauración de las Tortugas Marinas, Jorge Ballestero, explained that in the case of the endangered leatherback turtle the species could disappear completely.

Data from environmental organizations dedicated to the conservation of turtles reveal a decrease to 3.9% annual spawning of the Hawksbill species since 1960.
World Turtle Day was started to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures.

These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the exotic food industry, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade.

Adults and children can do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation.

  • Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
  • Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
  • If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
  • Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths.
  • Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
  • Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind.

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