Celebrate World Turtle Day
To check out our ocean’s general health, check out the well-being of sea turtles. On land, turtles and tortoises off insight, as they are a sentinel for our environment. To celebrate turtles and tortoises, May 23 is World Turtle Day. It’s, for sure, a holiday you can take your time celebrating.
Q: Where to turtles fill up their tanks?
A: A shell station.
Really bad jokes aside, turtles and tortoises walked and swam alongside dinosaurs. It’s not an exaggeration to say, if they disappear – we all may follow….or worse, they could out-survive us.
American Tortoise Rescue, a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, sponsors World Turtle Day. The day was created as a yearly observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world, as well as abandoned pet turtles.
Here are five pet turtle tips:
- Do not buy small turtles with shells less than 4-inches long, as salmonella (and other illnesses) are more common among these turtles. A federal law bans the sale of tiny turtles as pets. However, they are sometimes sold illegally at stores, flea markets, gift shops, and roadside stands.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, some turtles carry salmonella, so it’s necessary to wash hands with soap and water after handling, not to mention many turtles don’t appreciate handling. Kissing pet turtles is never advised.
- Never release pet turtles outdoors to fend for themselves, as they may not be suited for that environment or accustomed to finding their own food.
- If you see an injured turtle or tortoise, contract a wildlife rehabilitator, a professional to consider removing the animal for medical care. And some turtles do bite.
- And NEVER take a turtle or tortoise living outdoors and remove the animal randomly to be a pet; this is cruel and exceedingly stressful for the animal who is unlikely to live even if you provide proper care.
Turtles and tortoises do many things slow, including reproduce. And they have no defenses against illegal human trade. Between 2000 and 2015, more than 300,000 tortoises and freshwater turtles were seized from the illegal wildlife trade. They are also killed, in places, for soup and for reported (but totally unproven) medicinal effects.
Alarmingly, at least seven species of tortoises have gone extinct in recent history, and of the remaining 366 species of turtles and tortoises, more than half are facing extinction.
There are seven different species of sea turtles, six of which — Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and the Olive Ridley can be found throughout the ocean – in both warm and cool waters. The seventh species, the Flatback, lives only in Australia.
What’s amazing about sea turtles is that after years traveling the open ocean they return to the nesting grounds where they were born to lay their eggs. In their voyage from nesting to feeding grounds – some species will travel more than 1,000 miles.
Life is filled with danger for a sea turtle, especially the hatchlings. On the beach, birds, crabs, raccoons, and all sorts of reptiles and other animals will chow down the eat newborn meals.. And if hatchlings make it to the ocean, they are still tasty snacks for seabirds and fish.
However, the greatest threats to sea turtles aren’t from natural predators; they are from humans. Accidental catch in commercial fisheries or entanglement in marine debris are serious threats to sea turtles, as well as destruction of beach habitat, harvesting or poaching for meat and eggs, and even boat strikes.