International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2019, Day 6 (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)
Closing out ITTW with our new favorite mug (plus the best stickers)! #TortallyAwesome
We’ve shared lots ways we shells are turtley and tortally awesome all week long. You can also help by simply spreading the word about how awesome we shells are and how desperately we need help! Tell your friends, tell your coworkers, tell your barista—get out there and shout it from the rooftops!
Most of all, don’t assume people you look up to behaviors as always correct.
This is an incredibly important post that I hope everyone will take the time to read and share.
As International turtle and tortoise week comes to a close, this is one point that is most important to remember, take the Wilson turtle (and tortoise) promise:
Keep wildlife wild.
This has many forms.
1. When helping a turtle or tortoise cross the road, remember to move them to safety in the direction the were going. Do not take them away from their location because you intend to bring them to a place they find “safer”.
Our shell friends are smart and that is their home. Don’t remove them, simply help them along and allow them to continue on their way.
2. Also, and I need to stress this next point the most as I have been irresponsible in vetting my posts lately, DO NOT TAKE ANY ANIMAL YOU FIND IN THE WILD INTO YOUR HOME TO MAKE YOUR PET.
Our shell friends have lived centuries in places we now call home. Their existence is dependent on the lives of those that came before and every animal taken from the wild = generations of future turtles and tortoises that will never be.
If you are graced with the presence of an incredible shell friend, keep a respectful distance, don’t stress the animal, and enjoy the view. heck, tell your shell friend how much you look forward to the turtpocalypse. That’s always appreciated!
And of course, if you’d plan to adopt a turtle or tortoise please do your research ahead of time. Be sure to find a reputable breeder or contact a rehab facility that has animals up for adoption. The illegal wildlife trade is real and it’s one of the greatest threats to turtles and tortoises worldwide.
So on that note, let’s all take a pledge to Keep wildlife wild! Leave turtles and tortoises in the wild alone to live their lives amongst us for generations to come!
International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2019, Day 5 (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4)
One fact that often gets overlooked when people talk about endangered species is that every species is part of a complex web of relationships with hundreds or thousands of other species. For example, green sea turtles need sea grass for food, and sea grass needs constant cropping from sea turtles to stay healthy. Other marine species like small fish and crustaceans in turn rely on sea grass for habitat, and larger critters like whales and manta rays depend on these lower levels of the food chain.
To save any endangered species, it is not enough for us to focus on that species in isolation. Endangered species will survive only if we protect their ecosystems. So when it comes to helping us shells, it’s not just actions specifically targeted at turtles and tortoises that help. Anything you do to help protect our planet ultimately helps! From recycling to not littering to turning off the lights when you leave a room, you can make a difference!
International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2019, Day 4 (Parts 1, 2, and 3)
Did you know that some of the most critically endangered turtle species are also the most colorful? My new beautiful red turtle friend from friend (Iri)epsi @epsifawnshawn has several threatened look-alikes in the wild:
Painted terrapins look drab most of the year, but come breeding season, the males transform into one of the most strikingly and uniquely beautiful turtles, with bright red between their eyes, pure white heads, and lighter shells with flashy black markings. Females have their own tricks: Although they live in freshwater and some brackish water, females swim to the sea and nest on beaches alongside sea turtles. Hatchlings can even live in pure seawater for some time! Their conservation status is much less exciting: Critically Endangered. 🙁
Male Northern River Terrapins similarly change up their looks during breeding season to gorgeous crimson-colored necks and black heads. Sadly, the Northern River Terrapin is considered extinct in most of its habitat, in the rivers and deltas of India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. Conservation groups are racing against the clock to save the species with assurance colonies.
Chinese red-necked pond turtles are vibrantly red not just on their necks, but also on their heads and other soft tissues. (And they have delightfully spectacular smiles!) These shells used to be a common species, but these days, they are one of the rarest aquatic turtles in China and have not been seen in the wild in years.
All of these species are struggling against habitat loss, pollution, hunting, and other human threats. Their gorgeous colors add yet another threat: Poaching for the black-market pet trade.
This brings us to a critical way you can help our endangered turtle friends: Never buy a wild-caught turtle (or tortoise) or take a turtle (or tortoise) from the wild! Taking turtles from the wild is bad for the individual turtle or tortoise (cruelly forced from its home to be surrounded by scary big monsters), the species (every individual lost means lost genetic diversity and future generations of offspring), and even for you (the stress of capture and new environments means higher vet bills). If you’d like your own shell friend, adopt from a rescue or buy from a reputable captive breeder!
International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2019, Day 3 (Parts 1 and 2)
Yesterday, we shared interesting facts about the green sea turtle. Did you know there are seven total species of sea turtles? In addition to green sea turtles, leatherbacks, loggerheads, hawksbills, Olive Ridleys, Kemp’s Ridleys, and flatbacks swim through our oceans. Six of these seven species are endangered, and we don’t have enough data about the seventh (the flatback, endemic to Australia) to determine its conservation status.
How can you help protect our sea turtles? Decrease your plastic pollution! Whether that’s refusing plastic cups in favor of (far more stylish) ceramic mugs or taking the extra few seconds to recycle your plastic water bottle, every little bit helps!
Plastic is one of the biggest threats to marine life. Unlike natural materials like wood, plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade and releases toxic chemicals in the process. A staggering amount of our plastic waste ends up in the ocean, much of it as tiny “microplastics” that are consumed by even filter-feeding animals.
By reducing your plastic usage, you can help to reduce the plastic that ends up in our oceans and all too often tangled around helpless ocean critters or in their bellies. Plastic bags in particular are very dangerous. Many sea turtles love snacking on jellyfish (adult leatherbacks eat almost nothing else!), and plastic bags look mighty similar to jellyfish when you’re a hungry turtle. Ingested plastic blocks nutrient absorption from real food and over time slowly starves the unsuspecting turtle.
The ocean deep may seem far away, but our daily choices reach much farther than we can see. Choose your actions to help keep our sea turtle friends swimming in the oceans!
International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2019, Day 2 (Part 1 here)
First up in the endangered turtle species we are highlighting for ITTW this year: the green sea turtle! Green sea turtles are the world’s largest species of hard-shelled sea turtle, with some adults weighing over 400 pounds! They get their name from the green color of the fat under their shells. In some places, the Pacific green turtle, which has a darker and more vaulted shell, is also called the black sea turtle. Baby green sea turtles are omnivores, but adult green sea turtles, unlike most other sea turtles, eat primarily plants like seaweed and seagrass. Adults actually help seagrass grow: By eating the tips, green sea turtles keep the seagrass healthy!
How do you tell a green sea turtle apart from other sea turtles? If you can get close enough, green sea turtles have only one pair of scales in front of their eyes. All other sea turtles have two pairs!
🌍 Happy Earth Day & International Turtle and Tortoise Week! 🌏
This year’s Earth Day theme is Protect Our Species. It’s especially fitting for ITTW: More than half of the currently recognized turtle and tortoise species are threatened with extinction.* Some species, like the Yangtze giant softshell turtle, are down to only a few individuals. 🐢😢
This week, we will be highlighting threatened turtle species and ways you can help to protect them. We are all responsible for protecting the beautiful biodiversity of our home planet! ❣️🌎
👉 Check out @earthday to learn how you can support the #ProtectOurSpecies campaign!
International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2018, Day 4 (Days 1, 2, and 3)
Did you know you could be directly contributing to killing turtles with your everyday accessories? Real “tortoiseshell” may look beautiful, but it comes from the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle. We talked about this last year as well, but we’ve seen a mini surge in interest for tortoiseshell jewelry this year. Always make sure you are buying only faux tortoiseshell! Faux tortoiseshell can be just as beautiful, and you won’t be hurting any turtles!
More broadly, you can make a difference simply by taking a second to think about the impact of your everyday purchases on us shells. Minimize using plastic straws that instantly become plastic pollution (and can get lodged in sea turtles’ nostrils – shorter version here). Spend the extra minute to find biodegradable alternatives and environment-friendly chemicals. If we all spend that extra minute, we could save a lot of turtles and tortoises out in the wild!
Wise words, Kirby! No piece of jewelry is worth the life of the incredible, but critically endangered, hawksbill sea turtle! This is particularly important for anyone traveling to the Caribbean and Latin America where the sale of these items is far more common despite laws against it.@shadowdunsparce writes more about it here (and the drawing of a hawksbill is incredible!)
Here’s a guide to identifying real turtlesshell jewelry brought to you by the TOO RARE TO WEAR campaign!
And Kirby is right! we can all do our part by minimizing the use of plastic straws, bags, and soda can rings! There are many alternatives out there these days, and taking the extra time to look to save our shell friends in the sea… least we can do if you ask me!
Very important information on how to tell when something is made of real turtleshell!
International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2018, Day 6 (Days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)
Closing out this year’s ITTW with perhaps the most famous and biggest of tortoises: The iconic Galapagos tortoise! The Galapagos tortoise is a story of both caution and hope for all us other shells: Humans nearly wiped out all of these giants and did in fact cause several species of Galapagos tortoises to go extinct, most recently the Pinta Island tortoise that disappeared with Lonesome George. Fortunately, persistent conservation efforts have helped several species of Galapagos tortoises rebound. But like all the shells we have highlighted this week, success is not yet guaranteed: Galapagos tortoises are still classified as “vulnerable.”
To wind up ITTW 2018: We turtles and tortoises will disappear without help, so get out there and help save us!
* This beautiful photo is a page from the Turtle Conservation Coalition’s report on the top 25 most endangered species of turtles and tortoises in the world. Get your own copy here!