Friday, June 28, 2013

My Cousin: The Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtle

Yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles are one of the largest South American river turtles with an average life span is 60 to 70 years.

These turtles are considered side-necked turtles, which means they cannot pull their heads into their shells, rather craning them to the side to protect themselves in the event of attack from predators.

This species can be recognized by its dark upper shell and the yellow spots that adorn its head, though these fade with age. Females can be twice as large as males. They have strongly webbed feet and an oval shell, dark on top, which is slightly domed. They can grow to a length of 20 inches and weigh around 18 pounds.

These turtles inhabit South America's Amazon River. They occupy tributaries and lakes connected to the Amazon River, though when the river floods, they will branch out to flooded forests.

These turtles eat a range of foods, from fruit and plant materials to fish and small invertebrates.

The yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle is diurnal and is most active in mid-morning and afternoon. Groups of turtles can be seen basking in the sun on logs or stones in the middle of rivers and on the shore.

As ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals, this behavior functions to warm their bodies. They are also very aquatic, only coming out of the water to bask.

They are a vulnerable species in the wild because they are a popular food item in some South American countries.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Get Around

That's right, I get around. Well, when I'm out of my tank, I do. And I am proud to take ownership of my ability to move forward in life, unlike some people I know.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Barriers for Protection

Increased motor vehicle traffic on the causeways between the mainland and the barrier islands of coastal southern New Jersey is a growing threat to diamondback terrapins. Development on the barrier islands has destroyed most of the sand dunes that originally served as the primary nesting site for terrapins. With the disappearance of sand dunes, females have had to find alternative nesting grounds, primarily the shoulders of roads crossing and adjacent to their native salt marshes.

Embankments of causeways have proved to be a dangerous substitute for sand dunes, resulting in hundreds of terrapin roadkills annually.
     In 2004 researchers from the Wetlands Institute began to install temporary silt fencing along the coastal causeways, in an attempt to reduce road mortality of nesting terrapins in areas known to be major “kill zones.” For three summers, the fencing along Stone Harbor Boulevard reduced terrapin mortality, on average, approximately 84 percent. In 2006, in an attempt to improve the fencing project, a 1,000-foot section of a new fencing material, “Tenax” (a thick, mesh material), was installed to determine its durability in the harsh coastal conditions over the course of a year. The Tenax proved to be durable, so in 2007 the Wetlands Institute installed the year-round Tenax fence along the entire section of Stone Harbor Boulevard. In addition, the fencing project was expanded to include a mile and a half section of Avalon Boulevard (using a combination of both Tenax and silt fence material), which, because the fence was installed in a continuous line with no openings, resulted in a 100 percent reduction of terrapin roadkills.
     By 2009 the Tenax fencing, susceptable to snow damage from plowing and damage from weed whackers, was also showing signs of deterioration. Six-inch corrugated plastic drainage pipe was proven experimentally to be an effective barrier, and in June 2010 over 7,000 feet of corrugated tubing was installed along the Margate Causeway. It proved much quicker and easier to install than either silt or Tenax net fencing.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh Boy, It's Koi!

Maybe this summer I will get treated to a pond full of friendly but abnormally puffy-eyed koi fish. Maybe not.