Category: ITTW 2019

International Turtle and Tortoise Week 2019, Day 6
(Parts 1, 2, 34, 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!

* Our new mug is made by The Lemon Gift Co., run by boss Lemon the tort!

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 12, 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 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!

*  Source:  Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles – 2018, available at www.turtleconservancy.org/trouble.