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)
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!
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.
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…
Thanks for the note!