The Chinese probably eat the world’s greatest diversity of wild beasts. As their national appetite grows, American biologists are wondering, where have all the turtles gone?
Turtles may have been a victim of dynamite used to fish illegally.
At least 70 dead turtles were spotted on beaches and in shallow waters in northern Guanacaste on Tuesday, but reports from fishermen indicate that the death toll may be much higher.
“We have reports from fishermen whose boats are surrounded by hundreds of dead turtles,” Roger Blanco, the lead investigator for the Guanacaste Conservation Area with SINAC, told The Tico Times. “They say they are headed for shore.”
With its black shell and dark body, the rare Eastern Pacific green sea turtle sub-population is considered a separate species from the green sea turtle by some scientists. The sub-population is critically endangered both in Costa Rica and worldwide.
Via TicoTimes (!: graphic image)
Breakout Year for India’s Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle
One of India’s most iconic and recognizable turtles, the Giant Narrow-headed softshell turtle (Chitra indica) hasbeen a primary focus of TSA India’s program since 2007.
Locating and protecting nests in the upper Ganges, Chambal and lower Yamuna river systems has resulted in thousands of hatchling being released that likely would have not survived. In the process, much has been learned about the nesting ecology, abundance and distribution of this heavily hunted species. However, efforts to start a pilot husbandry program, with the goal of refining captive rearing techniques that would allow the development of an assurance colony, have met with setbacks and frustrations over the years.
In an effort to reverse this trend, a solar water heater was installed at one of our captive facilities – Kukrail – and the enclosure was wrapped in plastic sheeting to retain heat. 50 hatchlings were retained for rearing in early 2013, but 30 perished due to temperature extremes. However 20 survived and now weigh more than 150 grams as of September 2013. Last week another 60 eggs from two nests were moved to Kukrail for incubation and headstarting again this year.
From Turtle Survival Alliance, one of my favorite conservation non-profits.
Rare North American Desert Tortoise to be euthanized. Land owners once paid a fee that went to Desert Tortoise conservation. But the real estate market tanked, drying up the funding source. The lesson learned - with respect to species conservation - is beware of “win-win” agreements between the feds and free market players. A species will out last any economic trend, the free market (bless its little heart) does not live by that same rule.
Federal funds are running out at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center and officials plan to close the site and euthanize hundreds of the tortoises they’ve been caring for since the animals were added to the endangered species list in 1990.
Good news from Turtle Survival Alliance.
The TSA is thrilled to announce that a verdict has been reached in a tortoise smuggling case in Madagascar from July 2011 (click herefor the story). One of the smugglers arrested, along with three accomplices, were sentenced this week to two years in prison and a fine equivalent to $574,000 USD.
This is the highest fine ever levied for tortoise smuggling in Madagascar and gives us hope that the tide is turning!
Progress from one of my favorite conservation charities, the Turtle Survival Alliance. They help save rare turtles through working with governments and property owners. Very well designed system with many successes.
Great news from Burma! It is the first captive hatching of the Arakan Forest Turtle at the Rakhine Turtle Center in Gwa. Built with funding support from the TSA, and managed in cooperation with the Myanmar Forest Department and Wildlife Conservation Society, this represents the first captive breeding for this critically endangered turtle in Myanmar. The species has been reproduced previously in the US and Europe.
Males don’t stand a chance in a warmer world, if they happen to be painted turtles. A temperature rise of around 1 °C is all it would take for the species to become 100 per cent female and earmarked for extinction.
Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), found in lakes and streams across North America, are one of many reptile species whose sex is determined by temperature. Eggs in warm nests are likely to hatch as females, while males hatch in cooler nests, although no one is sure why.
In recent years, many researchers have raised concerns that global warming could skew the sex ratios of these reptiles. Rory Telemeco and his colleagues at Iowa State University developed a mathematical model to predict whether the painted turtles might be affected.
For over 25 years, Telemeco’s colleague, Fredric Janzen, documented the nesting times and sex ratio of painted turtle hatchlings on a small island in the Mississippi river in Carroll County, Illinois. He found that females can shift their nesting dates by about 10 days to ensure their eggs develop at temperatures that produce an even mix of males and females.
The team used this finding, along with historical records of soil and air temperatures, to create a mathematical model that predicts the sex ratio of eggs laid at different temperatures. In a preliminary test of the model, the group correctly predicted the sexes of 40 out of 46 hatchlings born in the wild.
Telemeco’s team then used the same model to predict what might happen to the sex ratio of future hatchlings. Conservative climate models predict that average temperatures in the US Midwest will rise by 4 °C over the next century. The group’s model suggests that this temperature hike would result in nests of all-female hatchlings, even if the turtles nest earlier, when temperatures are cooler. In fact, average temperatures only need to rise by 1.1 °C to have this effect, the team found. “It’s ultimately extinction,” says Telemeco.
Richard Shine, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, who was not involved in the study, says the findings are likely to apply to many species where sex is dependent on temperature. “All crocodilians, a smattering of turtles and lizards, plus some fishes”, will be affected, he says. “Just laying your eggs a few weeks earlier won’t be enough to cancel the effects of warming,” he says.
Biologists take note.
Students Experience a “Day in the Desert”
On April 4, teachers and fifty-eight 7th graders from Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School traded their brick and mortar classrooms for the vibrant landscape of southern Utah. The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (NCA) was one of the chosen venues for the “Day in the Desert” event, sponsored by the Washington County School District, which allows middle school students to participate in “hands on” activities.
In the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, located within the NCA, specialists from the BLM Saint George Field Office, Washington County Administrators Office, and Southern Utah National Conservation Lands Friends (SUNCLF) group instructed students on ecological and cultural resources with curriculum-based workshops. They educated students about the life histories and adaptive mechanisms of native Mojave Desert species, like the desert tortoise and Gila monster; sampled and tested water quality in Quail Creek, and tried their hand at flint-knapping.
They also identified native plants that were used as foods, medicines, or fiber sources by Native Americans and Anglo-European settlers, and visited the mid-19th century Orson B. Adams farmstead.
At the end of the day, “Day in the Desert” was a success with the children excitedly chatting about their experience on Public Lands as they marched back to the school bus.
-Story by Iris Picat; Photos by Iris Picat and Melissa Buchman
MyPublicLands is such a great tumblr to follow - it’s run by the Bureau of Land Management! And check out that old-timer desert tortoise!!
Thank you, Greg Melander. What a starkly beautiful reminder of our responsibilities.
In an ode to Eric Good’s efforts to save the turtles of Madagascar, I painted a replica turtle shell to look like a real one. We can appreciate nature without killing these beautiful animals.
New York hotelier, Eric Goode, was featured on “60 Minutes” to discuss his non-profit, The Turtle Conservancy. The organization works to conserve turtles and tortoises endangered by aggressive development, poverty, and illegal trade to China.
"A butterfly perches on the head of an Amazon River Turtle. Photographer Nate Chappell spotted the cheeky insect hitching a ride near the Amazon River in Ecuador. He explains: "I was standing in the open air lounge at Sani Lodge ecolodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle when I noticed a butterfly perched on the head of this Amazon River Turtle. I scrambled down to the river bank to try and photograph it. At first the butterfly flitted off as I startled it but it soon returned to sit on the turtle’s head. The butterfly is of the genus Oleria and it’s believed that the butterflies take salts and minerals from the head and eyes of the turtles. The turtles let this go on, so they probably get some benefit from it as well.""
Fun slideshow. And no waiting for each page to load, so it’s fast.
portugalstew asked: I wonder if one factor contributing to people being shitty to turtles is the fact that the study took place in South Carolina. Having lived here almost my entire life, I can safely confirm that South Carolinians are über shitty. I was in the car with some guy who actually fussed that a road construction crew placed a light tar paper partition between the fresh asphalt and a drainage ditch, because "those stupid liberals want to save the fish or some bullshit".
You’re referring to this post on driving over turtles, one of my favorite animals. And one of my favorite conservation charities is the Turtle Survival Alliance (they have a great 2013 calender in their shop!).
I feel you! Sadly it happens up here, too. Every once in a while, some kids are caught blowing up snapping turtles with fire crackers.
Actually, there are simple and cheap ways you can help turtles cross: just ask your mayor or town council to make a turtle crossing. Send a passionate email or write a letter (just friggin do it). Probably takes less time to do than read this tumblr post!
There are two basic designs - a sign (this one is in Maine), which is cheap and doesn’t piss off tax payers. Or a tunnel under a road, which is expensive and really, really pisses off tax payers (it’s turtles vs new teachers/police/road repairs! Aah!).
I suggest adding a fine for any driver caught intentionally swerving to kill an animal. Hard to enforce and catch people, so a very high fine could act as a deterrent rather than a revenue generator for the municipality.
Here’s an example of an “EcoPassage” in Florida designed for turtle and critters to pass without getting crushed. Warning, there are some gnarly pictures…
And Here’s a study on a turtle tunnel project in Toronto, Canada.
Thanks for the note!
A student at Clemson experiments with turtles crossing the road. If you’re American, the experiment went just as expected…
College student’s turtle project takes dark twist
Clemson University student Nathan Weaver set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. He ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.
Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.
"I’ve heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking," said Weaver, a 22-year-old senior in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.
To seasoned researchers, the practice wasn’t surprising.
The number of box turtles is in slow decline, and one big reason is that many wind up as roadkill while crossing the asphalt, a slow-and-steady trip that can take several minutes.
Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless creature under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.
"They aren’t thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time," Herzog said. "It is the dark side of human nature."
Catholic church accused of illegal poaching. I’ve posted on this a few times, but it’s getting more play. This time from the Guardian. Check it out and reblorg!
A Filipino wildlife official shows seized elephant tusks and dried sea turtles estimated to be worth more than $2m from a shipment that came from Tanzania in 2009. The Philippines has launched an investigation into the alleged involvement of Catholic priests in the illegal trade of African ivory in the country, officials said. Elephant tusks are commonly used in the manufacture of statues, figurines and image replicas of saints | image by Dennis M. Sabangan
Signal boost! Click/vote to help my favorite conservation organization win a $29,000 prize to help protect a special endangered tortoise.
Come on! Help these good folks out! Click and vote! Takes 3 seconds. This is a contest to help in-need conservation organization. This is not a request for a donation! Everybody loves pandas and dolphins, which means other species don’t receive the level of financial assistance needed for good conservation programs. That’s why they need your help. Pandas get all the cash, but what about the turts!?
The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) really needs your vote. The winning prize money will help save the Radiated Tortoise, one of the most beautiful turtles in the world. You. Love. Turtles!
These pretty lil’ guys are from Madagascar and traded illegally as pets. The TSA works with locals to help stop this trade, but it’s an uphill battle because country folks can make a lot of money shipping babies to places like China and the U.S. for pets.
Just click and vote. Select Category B #3 Radiated Tortoise and reblog! Let’s go! Do it for the turtles!