Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Love They Lost

Galápagos tortoises Bibi and Poldi called it quits after nearly 100 years together! Read more about the breakup here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Soviet Tortoises Circle Moon 50 Years Ago

In 1968, the Soviet Union sent two tortoises as the first
Earthlings to circle the moon! Read the story here. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cousin? Freak? Or Almost Extinct!

Nah, just the Batagur Baska, the Northern River terrapin, one handsome (and most unusual) species of riverine turtle! The River Terrapins (Batagur) once plied the great rivers and estuaries of southern Asia from the Indian Subcontinent to the islands of Indonesia.

Most Batagur now owe their survival and recovery to intensive conservation and management programs. Multiple organizations have come together in partnership to recover these species, and fortunately Batagur respond well to nest protection, hatching and head-starting.

Unfortunately, it is also one of the most critically endangered turtle species according to a recent assessment by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Monday, November 12, 2018

My Cousin: Golden Coin Turtle

The Golden Coin Turtle or Chinese Three-Striped box turtle is a species of turtle endemic to southern China.

The Golden Coin Turtle, because of its golden head and high monetary value, is on the brink of extinction due to the wildlife trade and the high value placed on it.

Eating the animal in a jelly is falsely believed to promote general well being, like a cure for everything from acne to cancer. Due to these false beliefs, the Golden Coin Turtle is one of the highest priced turtles in the trade, with prices for a single animal ranging from $10,000 to as high as $25,000.

The Turtle Conservancy program is the first repatriation of turtles captive-bred in another country (United States) back to their home country of China. The return of these animals will complete the circle of captive breeding, returning and eventually releasing these animals in the wild, which will provide an important boost for the remaining wild population.

The species is considered critically endangered due to its use in Chinese medicine, under threat because of unsustainable hunting. This is one of the most endangered turtle species in the world, according to an assessment by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Endangered Brazilian Villagers Enjoy Turtle Bath

Sadly, several bands of Brazil's Awá nomads — the easternmost isolated people in the Amazon — roam the woodlands living in a state of near-constant flight from the whine of winches and chain saws and, in the dry season, the smoke of wildfires. Shown here are several nomads bathing with turtles that may become their meal. To learn more about what is happening in this part of the world, read the National Geographic story.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Cogwheel Turtle

The Cogwheel Turtle is also known as the sunburst turtle or spiny turtle, this turtle is found in southeast Asia. It is an omnivore, eating bugs, fruit and vegetable matter. The Cogwheel Turtle is a moderately sized turtle that does well in outdoor enclosures in moderate climates.

Found primarily in Asia, the Cogwheel Turtle makes its home in or near streams in rainforests. The streams are usually shallow and clear. They spend a lot of time wandering on land near their streams, primarily in humid, cool, shaded spots. They are shy and spend a lot of time hiding in grass or under debris. The young turtles spend more time on land than the adults, who are more comfortable in water. They are omnivores, but feed primarily on plant matter. They are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the nighttime.

The Cogwheel Turtle is easy to recognize due to its distinctive shell, which is marked by spines on the keel and pleural scutes. The Cogwheel Turtle grows between 7 and 8.5 inches in length, and weighs up to 5 pounds at maturity. They are named for their spikes, or spines, though adult Cogwheel Turtles may lose their spines when they reach maturity. Young Cogwheel Turtles have been said to resemble pincushions because their spikes are so sharp. As they mature these will wear down and are not nearly as obvious as those of the young. Some adults may not have visible spikes, particularly those on the side. They can be difficult to sex. Males usually have longer, broader tails than the females. Males also have a concave plastron.

Conservation status: endangered.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Grumpy Gertie Gets Down

Meet Gertie, the grumpy Gopher Tortoise. In Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, their populations are listed as threatened due to human activity. With their powerful legs, Gopher tortoises can dig burrows up to 40 feet in length. These tortoises are a keystone species due to their beneficial impact on their ecosystem. Many different species rely on the gopher tortoises’ burrows to survive. Gertrude is most likely ‘head-banging’ because she is protecting her burrow.

[Thanks National Geographic for this story]

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Maldivian Sea Turtle

Check out MarineSavers for Turtle Conservation info

Marine turtle population is declining throughout the Indian Ocean region. Persistent over-exploitation, especially catching or killing of adult females on the nesting beach and the widespread collection of eggs are largely responsible for the depleted status of six Indian Ocean species. Marine turtles are also accidentally captured in active or abandoned fishing gears, resulting in death of tens of thousands of turtles annually. Coral reef and sea grass degradation, oil spills, chemical waste, plastic and other marine debris, high density beach-front development, and an increase in ocean-based tourism have damaged or eliminated nesting beaches and feeding grounds.

The Government of the Maldives launched a nationwide campaign on Television Maldives and Voice of Maldives to create greater awareness among the public about the need to save marine turtles. The government prohibited catching or killing of any marine turtle species, and their sale, import and export of its products. However, turtle egg exploitation continues. Without protection of at least some of the eggs and nesting beaches, it is believed that turtle population cannot be perpetuated for the enjoyment of present and future generations.