Wisdom From The Experts Pt 4 & 5 Two Turtle and Tort experts, two related pieces of wisdom to share about turtle and tortoise anatomy! Lori Neuman-Lee, PhD (@CheloniaGirl ), prof at Utah State University, says – “I wish people knew that turtles can’t come out of their shells…because their shells are part of their...
Words of Wisdom from the Experts Pt 3- “I wish people knew how smart turtles are. They learn quickly where their food comes from; if from a human then they learn that specific person” Is what Michelle Kelly (@MichelleKellyCW), public speaker about Reptiles and amphibians, wishes more people knew about turtles and tortoises. Those of...
Words of wisdom from the experts pt 2 Check out this INCREDIBLE photo by Amanda Hipps, @biophilamanda, one of the experts who responded to our #worldturtleday question. Amanda studies the animals that live in gopher tortoise burrows. In case you didn’t know, gopher tortoise burrows are home to hundreds of other animals. Their status as endangered directly...
This year, in honor of #WorldTurtleDay, we asked herpetologists, biologists, rescues, and rehabbers, to tell us what they wish more people knew about Turtles and Tortoises. Starting today we’ll be sharing a few responses a day! Let’s learn more about the animals we love from people who have devoted their lives to protecting them. Biologist...
Hello shell friends! Today is Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to giving back to all the incredible charities that make our world a better place. We are here to remind everyone not to forget the turtles, torts and the many incredible organizations that help shell friends survive!
Here is a list of some of these organizations to consider donating your time or money if you’re able. Each of these organizations has done incredible things for turtles and tortoises everywhere.
International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2018, Day 4 (Days 1, 2, and 3)
Did you know you could be directly contributing to killing turtles with your everyday accessories? Real “tortoiseshell” may look beautiful, but it comes from the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle. We talked about this last year as well, but we’ve seen a mini surge in interest for tortoiseshell jewelry this year. Always make sure you are buying only faux tortoiseshell! Faux tortoiseshell can be just as beautiful, and you won’t be hurting any turtles!
More broadly, you can make a difference simply by taking a second to think about the impact of your everyday purchases on us shells. Minimize using plastic straws that instantly become plastic pollution (and can get lodged in sea turtles’ nostrils – shorter version here). Spend the extra minute to find biodegradable alternatives and environment-friendly chemicals. If we all spend that extra minute, we could save a lot of turtles and tortoises out in the wild!
Wise words, Kirby! No piece of jewelry is worth the life of the incredible, but critically endangered, hawksbill sea turtle! This is particularly important for anyone traveling to the Caribbean and Latin America where the sale of these items is far more common despite laws against it.@shadowdunsparce writes more about it here (and the drawing of a hawksbill is incredible!)
Here’s a guide to identifying real turtlesshell jewelry brought to you by the TOO RARE TO WEAR campaign!
And Kirby is right! we can all do our part by minimizing the use of plastic straws, bags, and soda can rings! There are many alternatives out there these days, and taking the extra time to look to save our shell friends in the sea… least we can do if you ask me!
Generally underserved by conservation efforts, endangered reptiles finally included in EDGE action alerts.
This glorious punk rock turtle is the Mary River Turtle and it has been added to the Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species list this year. That’s right, it’s evolutionarily distinct from similar species ( its the only member of its genus) and it’s at risk of extinction. Despite being on this earth for 40 million years, the mary river turtle has been no match for human intervention in its environment. Its habitat, in Queensland Australia, is now being severely disrupted by the building of a dam.
Thankfully, its fine sense of style and its addition to the EDGE listing has gained attention from conservationists and work is being done to prevent IT’S demise but this guy wasn’t the only shell to be added to the list.
From the pig-nose turtle to the Radiated Tortoise, turtles, tortoises, and terrapins make up a HUGE portion of EDGE’s reptilian additions. Lack of long-term data and research on reptiles and general lack of public attention has left them out of EDGE’s protection and lacking strong conservation efforts. In fact, this is the FIRST YEAR reptiles have been added. Reptiles have been underserved by conservation efforts in general, according to Rikki Gumbs, co-ordinator of Edge reptiles, partly because they aren’t cuddly or fluffy and “ freak people out”.
“Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals. However, the Edge reptiles list highlights just how unique, vulnerable and amazing these creatures really are.”
“Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals. Many Edge reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages, whose branches of the tree of life stretch back to the age of the dinosaurs. If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth.”
An important point for day 3 for International Turtle and Tortoise Week and we couldn’t agree more. Heres hoping things start changing for the better for our threatened and endangered shell friends and all their reptilian friends as well.
That’s right! Today, April 10th, is Gopher Tortoise Day!
The Florida Gopher Tortoise is an incredible creature whose existence has been seriously impacted by urbanization, disease, poaching, and other human actions. According to national geographic, their numbers have declined by 70 PERCENT in the last century! That’s a frightening loss for the species and for the 360+ other animals whose own existence rely on the burrows Gopher tortoise create!
The video above features one of the most outgoing tortoises Hipps’ observes regularly, Gertrude. In the article, she describes Gertrude an alpha female and discusses the social behaviors she and her fellow researchers have observed while studying them.
“Most of the tortoises are pretty shy and skittish, but not Gertrude,” says Hipps. If someone approaches Gertrude’s underground home she often begins to head-bob—a telltale sign of tortoise aggression—before charging forward and possibly ramming your shoes, she says.
An understanding and respect for Gopher Tortoises, the creatures that depend on them is a must for everyone but especially those who live among them. This year, Sanibel island joined the many cities that celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day, by sharing information and advocating for conservation awareness.
Joel Cauette, Part of Sanibel Island’s Natural resources department, shared some basics on how to respect the habitat and activities of the Gopher Tortoise
“The species needs plenty of sandy sunny habitats with an open tree canopy to thrive and survive, according to the FWC. Officials advised that it is best to leave gopher tortoises and their half-moon shaped burrow entrances alone. It is illegal to disturb or harm them, their burrows or their eggs.
To help a gopher tortoise cross a road, pick it up and place it on the roadside in the direction it was heading. Also remember that the tortoise is a land animal – never attempt to put it into water.”
So take some time to learn about the gopher tortoise today, about their impact on the environment around them, and how you can help ensure the species exists for many more Gopher Tortoise Days to come!
And if you’re interested in the research mentioned above? Consider Follow Amanda Hipps (@biophiliamanda) and Bethany Augliere (@BethanyAugliere) on twitter! You’ll learn so much!
Just when we thought #turtle #nesting season was over on #CousinIsland, this #HawksbillTurtle Shows up! The current #ConservationBootCamp participants were lucky to witness this during this time of the year. Follow link to join the #conservation adventure on this award winning #nature reserve in the #Seychelles goo.gl/8XDIZh (at Cousin Island)
Attention #Floridians! Biologists want to know if you’ve spotted a Spotted turtle in the wild!Send your sightings to the email listed above and be a part of conservation action in Florida! BUT REMEMBER! Do not pick them up! Do NOT try and take them home with you. Leave them in the wild where they belong! Your job is to observe, acknowledging their glory, and report back (and squee with excitement that you got to see such an incredible creature in its habitat!)
The turtle and tortoise hatchlings pictured here, some about the size of quarter, are part of assurance colonies at the Bronx Zoo’s World of Reptiles. Nearly all of these species are reproduced according to recommendations from Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs. SSPs manage populations of species in AZA zoos and aquariums for genetic viability and demographic stability, in order to ensure that captive populations are healthy and could be safely reintroduced to the wild if needed…
All except the Flatback sea turtle can be found in the oceans surrounding the United States.
Almost all species of sea turtles are listed as Endangered.
There are many threats facing sea turtles. Some of these threats are caused by humans and include, bycatch by fishing practices, entanglement in fishing gear, habitat destruction, nest disturbance and climate change.
The sex of sea turtles depends on the temperature of the nest they are incubated in. Cooler temperatures result in more males and warmer temperatures result in more females. Increasing temperatures as a result of climate change are causing the temperature of the nests to be warmer resulting in more females being born than males.
Sea turtles nest and lay their eggs on beaches around the world and females return to the same beach that they hatched on to lay their eggs. Development and human activity has drastically altered and destroyed many nesting beaches.
Learn more about the many threats facing these creatures here
You can help reduce the amount of sea turtles being caught in fishing gear and preserve their nesting beaches by buying seafood that is certified to be sustainably caught, by reporting sea turtle tracks to local conservation organizations (because a nest is most likely nearby & most of these organizations protect them) and by not disturbing any known nests and holding others accountable that do disturb them by reporting their behavior to local authorities.
Sea turtles are protected by the law in the United States so it is illegal to catch or harass them in any way. If you encounter a sea turtle or a nest please do not approach either.
You can find out about verified sustainable sea food here. Labels and information that indicate certification can be found here and here.