Save baby sea turtles

Help put life before profits.

Remember watching Finding Nemo for the first time and falling head over heels for your favorite sea creature? For many of us, that sea creature was either Squirt or Crush (Crush was mine!), the psychedelic sea turtles of the East Australian Current. Unfortunately, as cute as humans think they are, sea turtles are often not afforded the protections they so desperately require for survival.

In some areas of the world, for example, off-road vehicles are permitted to roam across turtle nesting grounds, effectively killing the hatchlings, sometimes even before they hatch. Nests are also ruined by these tourist vehicles, making it more difficult for sea turtles to survive.

You can help combat this issue and save baby sea turtles today by clicking here and asking that off-road vehicles be limited in Cape Hatteras, a location where many sea turtles are born. Right now, a bill is being considered that would allow the use of off-road vehicles in a much more open, copious fashion, allowing tourists and other visitors to roam freely in these machines and destroy valuable habitat.  Please add your name to make sure this does not happen and the hatchlings are afforded as great a protection as possible.

A fun turtle to own

My friend bought a certain type of turtle a few years ago and I found it to be a very interesting ‘little’ guy. Of all the turtle species out there, I find the tortoise to be one of the most interesting. Of course there are different types of tortoises, but the general idea of having a turtle that will grow to be much larger than you, it awesome. I feel if I were to own my own tortoise, I’d take it for rides on certain occasions.  

I’ve seen these turtles for sale in the pet shop before and they are generally purchased when they are just small babies. It’s hard to believe that these once tiny guys eventually become one of the largest turtles out there. I also think it’s interesting that they will live to be much older than their owners. Actually, one of the oldest tortoises to date lived to be over 226 years old. But, the generally live about the same lifespan as a human and some humans are known to live to be 150 years old.

Obviously because of their long lifespan and the amount of space they take up, this type of pet should only be purchased by someone who plans to dedicate many many years to the turtle and provide it with a large space for living. This type of turtle would do best in a warmer climate, ideally in an outside habit set up much like their natural living environment. For those of you who have the time and space, have fun with your big guy! 

Turtle or Tortoise?

What's the difference?

While visiting the zoo the other day, my sister in law kept telling my daughter that the giant tortoise was a big turtle. I kept trying to explain to her that they were two different things, but she just didn’t get it. When I went to explain it further, I realized that I didn’t really know what the differences were, just that there were defiantly differences. It lead me to research what those actual differences are, besides just size.

The number one difference I found during research is that turtles live near or in the water, and have adapted to be able to hold their breath under water. Tortoises, on the other hand, typically live in dry, arid places and have a special way of storing water, much like camels. In fact, if tortoises tried to wade out into water they would likely drown, because they cannot swim. Tortoises don’t have the streamlined shells and webbed feet that turtles do.

Also, turtles usually spend much of the year migrating so they can lay their eggs in shallow water or on the shore. Tortoises do not migrate at all. Also, while turtles have a varied diet including plant matter and smaller animals, tortoises diet consists of only vegetation.

The physical attributes of both are also quite different. They were developed differently based on the needs of the animal. For example, tortoises are slow creatures, unable to quickly escape from predators. Due to this fact, they have developed a large, dome-like shell that allows them to hide inside. Turtles, on the other hand, cannot hide in their shells. They are quick enough that they don’t need a special hiding spot; they can just run from their predators.

While turtles and tortoises are similar, there are also many differences. Both creatures have developed their own special attributes that help them survive.

Fun Turtle Facts

Just because...

The last few blogs have been very serious. Of course, I don’t take the dwindling sea turtle numbers lightly, but I do think that we need a bread from the devastation and enjoy these fun turtle facts. If you have a fun fact that you would like added to the list feel free to contact me.
  • Turtles have been around for over 200 million years!
  • Some turtles behave like skunks. The Musk turtle, for example, emits a foul odor when startled
  • There are turtles on every continent except for Antarctica
  • Turtles cannot stick out their tongues
  • Many turtles live to be over 100 years old!
  • Some turtle species can go for up to a year with no food!
  • The largest turtle, the Leatherback, can weigh up to 1,800 pounds!
  • Turtles have no ears and are deaf. They use vibration in replace of hearing
  • Some turtle species have interesting eggs. The temperature of the egg will determine whether the baby turtle is male or female
  • Sea turtles are equipped with a special gland that filters the salt from their drinking water
  • There are about 300 different species of turtles
  • If underwater for too long, a turtle can drown
  • While usually considered slow, some land turtles can outrun the average person

I hope you learned something new about turtles. They are truly interesting creatures and the extinction of certain species should not be taken lightly. Do your part to ensure that future generations get to enjoy this magnificent animal. Remember to follow the three R’s – recycle, relocate, and rehabilitate.

How We Can Help

Little things to help out turtles

The number of turtles living in the wild is quickly dwindling. Hunting, habitat destruction, and pollution all contribute to the loss. Most people feel that there is nothing that they can do to help. That is not the case, even if you cannot donate time or money, you can still help turtles regain their numbers. The following list will provide you with ideas that will help save the turtles of the World.
  1. What to do if you find a turtle

If you find a turtle in the wild, never take it home as a pet. If it appears healthy and is in a safe place simply leave it alone. If the turtle is in a dangerous area, such as a road, you can safely move it to another place. Lastly, if you find a turtle that appears sick or has injuries it is best to contact your local conservationist or zoo. They will have the resources to properly handle the turtle’s care.

 

  1. Keep the Habitat Clean

The best way to keep the turtle’s habitat clean is to avoid littering. Never throw trash out of your car window or onto the street. Before throwing out your trash, take the time to separate out any recyclables. By recycling you will not be contributing to the growth of landfills. Any trash that can be broken down should be. Cut plastic rings so that they cannot get trapped around the neck of turtles.

 

  1. Educate Others

Take the time to educate your friends about how they can help turtles. If you see a pet shop with a species of turtle that is not supposed to be sold as pets inform the local conservationist. Also, if your friend finds a turtle and decided to keep it as a pet inform them that they should release the turtle back into the wild so that it can live free.

 

What about the largest turtle?

Since we talked about the smallest turtle breed last week, I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about the largest turtle breed out there. Many of you are probably a bit familiar with the leatherback turtle. Not only is the leather back the largest turtle in the world, it is also the largest living reptile! When the leatherback turtles reach their adult size, they weight a whopping 2000 pounds. Now that is quite a big turtle! The leatherback is also bigger than the typical male, reaching heights as great as 6 and a half feet. It’s hard to believe that their hatchlings are only about 3CM long, yet they grow to be an enormous sea turtle.

Other than their size, there is one key feature that makes them unique from the other turtle. The leatherback is the only turtle whose shell isn’t made of hard material. The leatherback gets its name from the fact that the shell is made from soft, leather-like material that couple be punctured much easier than the typical turtles shell.

The leatherback lacks claws on its front feet, but has much larger feet, making them ideal for long travel which is common with the species. Leatherbacks also lack in a hard mouth plate that is common with sea turtles. Instead they have a pointed shape and rigged edging and that’s why the leatherback tends to feed on very soft sea creatures such as; the jellyfish. The turtles typically reside in the wide-open areas of the water, but they have been known to appear in the coastal areas as well. This turtle species is most common in the Atlantic. 

Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle

new state marine reptile of California?

The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is on its way to becoming the official marine reptile of California. The bill, which was introduced last week, would also make October 15th the official conservation day for the Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The day would be used to educate school children of the importance of preserving the sea creature. Unfortunately, the turtles have been on the endangered species list since 1970, but the numbers continue to drop. In fact, since the 1980s, the Pacific leather back turtle numbers have dropped by 95%.

The dropping numbers are due, in large, to hunting. Large commercial fishing and pollution also contribute to the decreasing species. The turtles were once hunted for their meat and eggs. Thankfully, the Federal Government has recently taken it upon themselves to set aside 41,000 square miles, located across the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington, for leatherback sea turtle conservation.

This specific type of sea turtle is the largest known to man. It can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and get to be 8 feet long! They have been in existence for at least 100 million years. The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is also known for having the longest migration ever recorded. They travel thousands of miles across the Pacific in order the lay their eggs each year. Any creature that goes through all that to carry on the population deserves a little help from all of us.

If you would like to help the Pacific leatherback sea turtle bounce back from near extinction, you can visit the website for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. This site also has a list of things you can do daily to help restore sea turtle populations. All donations are helpful and will be used to research and implement conservation efforts for this magnificent creature.

 

 

The tiny penny turtle

When reading about turtles on the Internet, I’ve commonly come across the question ‘what is the smallest turtle you can have for a pet’. Well the answer to this is easy; the penny turtle. This cute little guy rarely gets over an inch big and measures smaller than a penny. If you see one of these turtles out and about, you just might mistake it as a beetle if you don’t take a second look. The penny turtle is so adorable and is easy to keep as a pet because it doesn’t require very much space at all.

If you decide to purchase a penny turtle, you need to provide them with the same living conditions you would provide for a turtle of any size. There must be an area for the turtle to swim, an area to rest and a heating lamp to keep the turtle warm. Turtles are cold blooded, so they can’t warm up on their own. A heating lamp will allow them to warm themselves up when they get too cold, keeping the turtle healthy.

The turtle lives in fresh water, so be sure to be able to meet these conditions before deciding to purchase a penny turtle. If you can keep a proper environment for a penny turtle pet, these can usually be found for sale at many of the local reptile shops. If your local shop doesn’t have them for sale, many times the owner can order one for you or refer you to someone who will be able to provide you with your very own, loving and adorable penny turtle.  

Red Eared Slider

A Unique Pet with High Demands

When I was a child I received a very special gift. My mother brought home a bouquet of Tulips she had gotten at work. Tucked inside one of the flowers was the tiniest little turtle I had ever seen. I loved nature and immediately started researching all about what he was and how to care for him. I named him Killer and decided he should live in the small pond in our back yard. Killer was a red eared slider, which are a common species of turtle to be kept as pets.

My turtle lived in that pond for a very long time, but eventually moved on. If you want to own a red eared slider indoors please keep in mind they require a lot of care. Never remove a healthy turtle from the wild; it is best to let them be. If you purchase one from a breeder or pet store you will need a few necessary items to care for it.

  • Aquarium or tank: You will need a 40 gallon or larger tank that has a screen top
  • UVA, UVB, and heat lamps: Your turtle will need all three types to imitate their natural environment and ensure their health
  • Water filter: This will keep your turtle’s water fresh
  • Basking area: You can use a man-made basking area or create one yourself
  • Water heater: Your turtle will not survive in cool water

These are the basic elements for the simplest turtle enclosure. They can cost upwards of $150 dollars. You will also need to provide a variety of food such as, pellets, fresh plants, and insects for your turtle to maintain proper nutrition.

A turtle makes a great pet for those who would enjoy watching it grow and develop. Red Eared Sliders are not good pets for people who want a pet to cuddle and interact with. Visit your local aquatic store to learn more about what goes into the care of a RES and whether it is a good option for your house.

Help Save Sea Turtles

Write to Governor Jindal today!

I’ve probably written before about how my family stopped purchasing shrimp because it turns out that the shrimp industry is one of the biggest culprits responsible for the death of sea turtles. If they can’t be harvested sustainably (what animal can, really?), we don’t want to be a part of it.

Right now, in Louisiana, this practice continues to rapidly kill sea turtles. Governor Bobby Jindal has allowed fisherman in his state to simply ignore the federal requirement that shrimp nets contain turtle escape hatches. Rather than allowing sea turtles that are erroneously trapped within shrimp nets a chance to escape, he has enforced this law—even when given a chance to repeal it—and allowed who knows how many sea turtles to die within shrimp trawl nets as a result.

More than 80 scientists have since come forth and asked that the state repeal this law. It’s not only a slap in the face to the rest of the country’s fishing industries, which follow the law and at least try to help reduce the numbers of sea turtles who die in shrimp traps—it’s also a pretty heartless move in general. Why not save a life when you’re provided such a simple way to do so? It’s not as if people are demanding that the shrimp industry be ended altogether (and we could certainly argue valid reasons for it to be); we’re simply asking that a small way out be provided for sea turtles who are trapped in the nets.

After the current nets in the state that are being used were inspected, it was discovered that most of the escape hatches for turtles were sewn shut—and the ones that were being used were not installed properly. In fact, some of them were installed in ways that would actually trap sea turtles or kill them altogether! This makes one think that all of the nets in the country should require inspecting—and that perhaps someone should take the time in Louisiana to show fisherman how the escape unit should be installed in the first place.

Please click here to ask Governor Jindal to reconsider his law. Tens of thousands of sea turtles who live in the Gulf of Mexico rely on these escape hatches to save them from death. Without them, the turtles trapped within the nets will surely drown, resulting in wasteful bycatch and further depletion of our already at-risk turtle populations.

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