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World Turtle Day reminds people to protect turtles and tortoises

by Therese on May 23, 2010

in Animals in the News

World Turtle Day, May 23, 2010

Today is World Turtle Day.

World Turtle Day was established in 2000 as a way to let celebrate one of the oldest creatures on earth.

The American Tortoise Rescue points out that experts predict turtles and tortoises could be gone within 50 years, which means we need to do all we can to help them. They offer these tips to help save these animals:

  • Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
  • Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
  • If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
  • Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths.
  • Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
  • Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches.  This is illegal everywhere in the U.S.

As if turtles and tortoises don’t have enough to deal with from humans, the recent BP oil spill hasn’t helped them or other wildlife. It appears that turtles, tortoises, and others are dying as a result of their habitat being polluted by the oil.

At least 150 sea turtles have washed up dead or dying along the U.S. Gulf Coast since the giant oil spill off Louisiana, a higher number than normal for this time of year, a leading wildlife expert said on Monday.


This is a time of year when dead or debilitated turtles would normally begin to show up with greater frequency, but the 156 found since April 30 along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida “are in higher numbers than you would expect,” Ziccardi said.

None of the animals had obvious signs of oil contamination. But, because of their proximity to the spill, they are being treated as possible victims of the crude oil that has been gushing from the ruptured wellhead since April 20, he said.

See the rest of the story from Reuters: Turtle deaths running high since oil spill: expert

The box turtle above wandered into my yard last week. I don’t know much at all about turtles, and wasn’t sure what to do with her. Thankfully, with advice from Jeff over at at Kingsnake.com, I relocated her to a nearby wooded area. That’s probably where she came from, although I have no idea how she found her way to my yard.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

TDB May 26, 2010 at 7:13 am

Thanks for remembering the turtles. It’s sad that World Turtle day ended up like this. I read the Reuters article and it is interesting how painstaking it is to determine the cause of a turtle’s death, but I wonder why the original pathologist had a gag order placed on him as far as talking to the media. He could not even take photos during the initial necropsies. And if the ‘chain of custody is the same as for rig wreckage washing up on the coast, that all goes to Transocean and BP ultimately. Gee, if we could all only investigate our own ‘accidents.’

The last update here quotes a wildlife journal article studying sea turtles exposed to the Ixtoc blowout in 1979.
“Sea turtles found dead when the Ixtoc I oil spill reached Texas waters were necropsied and tissues were analyzed for residues of petroleum hydrocarbons. Two of three turtles were in poor flesh, but had no apparent oil-caused lesions. There was evidence of oil in all tissues examined and indications that the exposure had been chronic. Comparisons with results of studies done on birds indicate consumption of 50,000 ppm or more of oil in the diet. Some possible mechanisms of mortality are suggested. ”

That was published years after the blowout.


TDB June 10, 2010 at 6:25 pm

The Louisiana Humane Society is planning an Interfaith prayer service for this Sunday that will address feelings of powerlessness and anger over what has happened to the Gulf wildlife, among other needs.


They are also launching a Prayer and Poetry Project and will be soliciting contributions for that if you know any writers who want to help.


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