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It’s World Turtle Day!

The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders. ―Edward Abbey

Gaaa! Today — May 23, 2013 — is the 13 annual World Turtle Day! This special day was created to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.

I love our turtles and tortoises…. I grew up with the giant South Pacific sea turtles (MAGNIFICENT), and now, I always have towels in my car for the sole purpose of transporting wayward turtles on our Florida roads (especially during nesting season, poor babies). If you encounter and relocate one, remember to *always* move them to safety in the direction he / she’s heading. Wildlife needs every tiny bit of help we can offer. More from the Mother Nature Network, in honor of this day celebrating these wonderful guys:

“The earliest turtles evolved up to 300 million years ago, branching off from a group of reptiles more closely related to crocodiles and birds than to lizards and snakes. Lots of turtle species have come and gone since then, including some spectacular ones like the car-sized “coal turtle” or the Koopa-like Meiolania damelipi. But today’s turtles face an unusually widespread danger, with about half of Earth’s 328 known species listed as threatened or endangered with extinction. They’re largely under siege from humans, yet unlike King Koopa, they didn’t bring this on themselves….”

Red-bellied Turtle, Flamingo Gardens, Florida

A Red-bellied turtle finds sanctuary at Flamingo Gardens

Florida Cooter (Turtle) in the Florida Wetlands

A Florida Cooter safely surveys his domain in the wetlands

Visiting with an Ancient Tortoise at Flamingo Gardens, Florida

Visiting with an ancient tortoise at the Flamingo Gardens wildlife rehabilitation center and sanctuary, last year… I would have climbed in for cuddles, if possible.

Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Juno Beach, Florida

A rescued sea turtle in rehabilitation at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach

And finally, one of my favorite guys: The always gentle and shy Gopher tortoise! I’m always trying to catch a glimpse of these sweethearts, and have written a few times in this blog about their essential role to our ecology, and the need for their continued protection.

Gopher (Burrowing) Tortoise, Savannas Preserve State Park

Trying my best not to frighten a Gopher (Burrowing) tortoise in the Savannas Preserve State Park


Read more about World Turtle Day, and protecting turtles and tortoises here
and here:

at Mother Nature Network, and at the

Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida, and at

World Wildlife Foundation, and at

Nature artist / writer Denise Dahn’s blog, learn about Gopher tortoises, and finally at

treehugger!

53 Comments Post a comment
  1. Why does world turtle day always catch me by surprise? I should have this on my calendar…thanks for the nudge. I love gopher tortoises, too. I did an interpretive sign project once in gopher tortoise country and thoroughly enjoyed learning about them. So many of them get killed by cars – and habitat loss, too. But, they are an important species that helps support lots of other animals with their burrowing activity. In the Pacific Northwest, we mostly see Western Pond Turtles, but they are becoming quite rare, too. Here’s to turtles and tortoises!

    May 23, 2013
    • Ah, if it weren’t for all the wildlife welfare groups I belong to on Facebook…! I give them the credit, hahah!

      I just adore our gopher tortoises — an incredible number of (also threatened or endangered) species share their burrows, it’s just amazing. They’re so shy, I try not to scare them though in the wild. You’ll have to post your signage on them — so I can then link here! I’d love to see it.

      May 23, 2013
      • Better late than never…I just posted a min-post with gopher tortoise! Thanks for the idea!

        May 23, 2013
      • Oh yay! I’ll go check it out now, and provide a link to it here… :)

        May 23, 2013
  2. Fantastic Posting :)

    May 23, 2013
    • Thanks so very much! I adore our turtles and tortoises, and they need so much help today….

      May 23, 2013
  3. photos by erica h #

    Wow, I had no idea it was World Turtle Day, but just yesterday I found a turtle in my street, and I thought it was strange, as my neighborhood does not seem to be an ideal turtle habitat… But now I suspect he may have simply been out for World Turtle Day! :-) I did move him out of the road into a neighbor’s yard- Hopefully that’s where he wanted to be.

    May 23, 2013
    • Oh, yay! Heh, he was making a special appearance for the big day — love it! ;) And double-hoorah for moving him to safety, from the road…! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed people stepping *over* turtles in the road. Uhhhh… That’s usually when I pull the car over and carry them myself. See, a girl will do it for you, sir.

      May 23, 2013
  4. Had to smile about your moving turtles off the road, FeyGirl. Once when I was bicycling the Natchez Trace in spring, baby turtles were migrating across the road. I kept stopping to help them on their way… went about half as far as I normally travelled in a day. I can see you screeching to a halt, jumping out, and moving a turtle. (grin)

    May 23, 2013
    • Heh, always!! But I’m not alone, fortunately… I know many others who keep boxes and towels in their cars just for this purpose. But on the flip side, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed people stepping *over* turtles in the road. That’s usually when I DO pull the car over and carry them myself. See, a girl will do it for you if you’re too scared to do so yourself, sir. I once carried a giant soft shell in high heels and work clothes across six lanes of traffic. Lots of people stop, at least. ;)

      LOVE the fact that you guided a bunch of babies to safety! They’re the ones that really need the most help; I’ve done that once or twice as well. Well, them and the mamas who just laid their eggs, and are returning to their waterways….

      May 23, 2013
  5. Great post, I don’t know as though I wold like to hug a turtle, even though they can be cute, but to each their own. ;)

    By reading your blog, and several others written by women, something has dawned on me, how great it is that women are getting more involved in nature. When I was younger, the only people seen in the woods were men, mainly hunters and fishermen. Women, being more protective by nature, are doing great things as far as protecting nature!

    May 23, 2013
    • Thanks so much! Heh, they’re such fascinating creatures, and so ancient — I just love them. :)

      That’s such an interesting observation! I think throughout history, especially in religions and beliefs of centuries past, women have played a key role in the natural world. Hopefully their voice is being heard once again, wink.

      May 23, 2013
  6. Happy turtles day. We have no such animals, but I appriciate your relocation of turtles in danger. And this post of course.

    May 23, 2013
    • Happy Turtle Day to you as well! Thanks so very much.

      Ah, you’d love these guys… Such fascinating and ancient creatures. So many cultures have appreciated and honored them throughout history!

      May 23, 2013
  7. Loved that first photo. Turtles are a novelty so it’s nice to see some.

    May 23, 2013
    • They’re such sweethearts, too — so fascinating and ancient. That’s one of my favorite captures too, the first one… Hard to get in the wild (they’re pretty skittish), but at the sanctuary it was a bit easier!

      May 23, 2013
  8. I wrote a post for Turtle day and lost it…. …this is a great one for turtles….

    May 23, 2013
    • Oh no!! I’ve done that as well… :) But thanks! This was done quickly, digging through my turtle / tortoise images; I nearly forgot about the day – GASP!

      May 23, 2013
  9. Thank you. Turtles truly are a magnificent bunch. One time I had the opportunity to help a turtle complete his/her journey across some highway. Only after I place her one the side he seemed to heading for did I think that – wouldn’t it be nice to take a picture but I was too late as I watched the grass move, part and gather together again. She was gone! It is always an honour to help a fellow being on this earth, no matter their species. Of course, sometimes, it doesn’t work out for the best but this is no reason to stop the practice.
    You look great with you big friend and yes it would have been nice to get a hug from the big one!! Maybe another time.

    May 23, 2013
    • Ah, how wonderful!! I know you would do all you could to help your wildlife… I know what you mean though, with the turtles I’ve helped, I want pictures too!! Ah well. At least they’re safe. :)

      Isn’t that tortoise magnificent? He was far away in the image, too.. He’s HUGE! Awareness is needed to help these guys. They need all the help we can offer, that’s for sure.

      May 24, 2013
  10. We have very few turtles here, but I greatly appreciate your concern for them and your efforts in their behalf!

    May 23, 2013
    • Ah, thanks so much! I adore our turtles and tortoises — especially since I’ve been surrounded by them since birth. And today, we need to really help them. They’re amazing creatures, the journeys they make, the years they live on this planet — as a species, we as humans must respect other creatures’ abilities, honestly.

      May 24, 2013
  11. You have done an excellent study here sharing all these different turtle species. Well done. I really like the first shot!

    May 23, 2013
    • Thanks so much! As many turtle species as we have here, I had no idea about this special day until this year. They need all the awareness we can offer them, too.

      I was so happy to get that first shot at this wonderful sanctuary (and rehabilitation center) in Davie — in the wild, they’re so shy! :)

      May 24, 2013
  12. I didn´t know there´s a world turtle day , i always learn new things about your wildlife from you . And your photos are fantastic ! // Maria

    May 24, 2013
    • Thanks so very much Maria!!

      I actually learned this myself for the first time… Living in an area with so many turtles! So I’m extra-thrilled. :) XO! Christina

      May 24, 2013
  13. I sure to love that Red-bellied turtle face!! I keep looking at that beautiful eye and the details of its head!! Great shot!!

    May 24, 2013
    • Thank you, lady! I just adore that face.

      I was so happy to get a close-up of him… You know how shy they are in the wild! This sanctuary is a wonderful place, though, and I took advantage of their good nature. :)

      May 24, 2013
  14. Gotta love the turtles! We just rescued another one off the road near us.

    May 24, 2013
    • Hoorah!! Yay for saving turtles! On my way back from the gym on World Turtle Day, a jogger was saving a huge softshell turtle… Of course I applauded loudly from my car. :)

      May 25, 2013
  15. I love any animal so similar to myself: slow moving, ancient looking and adverse to sticking their neck out too far! :)

    Wonderful creatures and I’m trying to photograph them whenever possible.

    May 24, 2013
    • Hahahah!! Love it, just love it!!!

      I always try to get good shots of them as well – they’re quite shy in the wild, though. ;)

      May 25, 2013
  16. Amazing. Period.

    May 24, 2013
    • Ah, thanks so very much! I just adore these guys – and they certainly need all the protection and help we can afford.

      May 25, 2013
  17. What gorgeous shots! Hope they find many defenders.

    May 25, 2013
    • Thanks so much….! I do hope awareness is growing for them. They’re truly amazing creatures.

      May 25, 2013
  18. Yes totally agree about turtles but in your article you said “I always have towels ready”. Why towels???

    May 25, 2013
    • Hahah! You know, I wrote that as if it were common sense, and then thought later, hmmm… But you’re the first to question it! Sometimes the poor turtles are nice and slimy from their watery homes — more often than not. Once, I was carrying a HUGE softshell across 6 lanes of traffic (during rush-hour of course), and he was so slippery and slimy that I dropped him (he was scared, trying to bite me, struggling)… He was fine, but I was traumatized. It was a bad fall. So, ever since then: TOWELS, just in case! :)

      May 25, 2013
  19. Boxes and towels – you bet! We have one road I drive frequently that’s a terrible risk for the turtles and such. There’s bayou here, there and everywhere, and in both spring and fall they’re coming and going. They frequently are hit, and tumble like crazy. But, if their shell is damaged and they have no other bad injuries, there’s a lady in town who can fix them right up. The answer? Fiberglass!

    We have both turtles and tortoises around, and several varieties of sea turtle. You can skim a nicely presented list here. I see the pond slider and the river cooter most often. I noticed that our Texas Tortoise has the scientific name of Gopherus berlandieri. I wonder if it’s related to your gopher tortoise?

    May 25, 2013
    • Ah, how WONDERFUL! It’s TRAGIC to see them hit… People don’t realize, that when turtles are struck and their shells damaged, they live in agony for a long time, quite often. Death doesn’t come quickly for them. I love this woman who heals them with fiberglass! My hero.

      I know the gopher tortoise appears in different areas of the country, mainly the south (GA and FL)… So I bet it IS the same! Although this appears to be its scientific name: Gopherus polyphemus. Hmmmm….

      May 26, 2013
  20. I think it’s so kind of you to help the turtles on the road. I love turtles because they always look so wise! There are very few (if any) turtles where I live, but I your pictures of them are absolutely amazing.

    May 28, 2013
    • Thanks so very much! Fortunately, there are always people helping our turtles on the roads — they simply have nowhere to go, sometimes. Most of the time! And when they’re hit, they can live for a long time with a broken shell, suffering. So every little bit helps these ancient guys! :)

      May 28, 2013
  21. You look awesome ! Perfect pose with the turtle. Speaking of happy turtle day..isn’t it happy Fey girl day around now?

    May 29, 2013
    • Aw, you’re such a sweetie. This is from a good year ago, actually. You’ll be a bit shocked to see me, now… I have an enormous daisy tattooed on that exposed arm! Eeks! :)

      FeyGirl day’s in August… ugh! I can’t believe time is going by this quickly! What’s going ON?!?

      May 29, 2013
  22. I love turtles! And the most popular post at our blog is about turtles (2063 views so far!). And the Annual Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp Photo Contest is all about our native turtles. If I could submit a photo to the contest digitally I would have already entered. But the contest involves photo prints and mounting the photo on some sort of foam board and stuff like that.

    May 31, 2013
    • Ah, that was an EXCELLENT, educational post…! Oh boy – what a wonderful thing, though! But WHAT A PROCESS. Seriously? Why not just digital submission?!?

      June 4, 2013
      • They are probably making people do mounted prints to reduce the number of submissions to the contest. To go to all the extra trouble the entrant must think his submission is a serious contender.

        June 4, 2013
      • VERY true. When I see some of the digital submissions to these nature contests — hmmm…. They’re definitely weeding, methinks.

        June 4, 2013
  23. Hooray for turtles and tortoises!

    March 21, 2014
    • Hoorah is right!! They’re such amazing critters…

      April 21, 2014

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