Good samaritans are accidentally mistaking a gopher tortoise for a sea turtle, releasing them into the ocean where they are less likely to end up as dinner for the many dangers that lurk on the beaches. Unfortunately, gopher tortoises can’t swim.
The two shelled creatures can be distinguished by their limbs. Gopher tortoises have toes with a claw on each toe, and sea turtles have flippers, for swimming. [via]
This story has been making the rounds and I’m sure many of you have seen it. Endangered gopher tortoises are being “returned to the sea” because they are thought to be sea turtles. *sad face*
I think the important lesson to take from this (aside from the turtle/tortoise difference) is that if you see a wild animal in distress, that’s not in immediate danger of being hit by car, call someone who knows how to handle it to help or leave it alone. Far too often more harm is done than good, despite the best of intentions.