The Yellow-spotted Sideneck (Podocnemis unifilis), known locally in Peru as “Terecaya,” is a historically important source of food. Unfortunately, the habit of excavating the nests of these turtles, easily found on sandy beaches, in order to consume the eggs, has severely reduced their numbers.
The nesting season for sea turtles began in the U.S. on March 1
Leatherbacks are the first to lay eggs along Florida’s Atlantic coast, followed by loggerheads and green sea turtles, pictured here, later this spring. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of several wildlife refuges where the endangered green sea turtle (pictured) is found:
Living around 220 million years ago in the Late Triassic of China, Odontochelys was the oldest known of all chelonians. About 40cm long (~16in), it lacked the beak and full armored carapace of its modern relatives, instead possessing a mouth full of teeth and only the plastron on its underside — this was quite literally a “turtle in a half shell”!
The evolutionary history of turtles is rather murky, with little early fossil evidence to work with. They were traditionally classified as the last surviving group of anapsids based on the lack of temporal openings in their skulls, but more recent morphological and molecular studies have placed them firmly within the diapsids. Their exact relationships are still debated, with some scientists considering them to be related to the lepidosaurs (modern lizards, snakes, and tuataras), and others suggesting them to be very closely related to the archosaurs.
The Burmese roof turtle (Batagur trivitta) is considered one of the most critically endangered turtles in the world!
This large river terrapin was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2002 in its home range of Myanmar. Now there are now over 600 individuals of this species being maintained and raised in facilities in the area. With egg-laying season coming up soon, we are hopeful this number will continue to increase.
You can read more about our work with the species here:
North America’s smallest and most rare turtle, the bog turtle, hibernates underwater in mud bogs ranging from 6 to 18 inches deep during the winter.
Watched a gpb special on mountain bogs and these rare reptiles. I would love to explore a mountain bog and its flora/fauna… We actually camped near the bog the special was filmed at (northern Chattahoochee), and visited the waterfalls. Maybe we’ll find the bog next time!!
A boater saw a loggerhead turtle floating abnormally with the left side substantially more buoyant than the right, preventing it from staying submerged for extended periods. The concerned boater called us and remained with the turtle until our officers could arrive. FWC sea turtle biologists rescued the loggerhead from the Intracoastal Waterway in southern Martin County with substantial assistance from the officers. Loggerheads are among the larger sea turtles; adults weigh an average of 275 pounds and have a shell length of about 3 feet. We hope the rescued reptile will be released after successful rehabilitation!
Please report stranded, injured or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.
Florida residents can help support sea turtle research and response efforts by purchasing a sea turtle license plate at BuyaPlate.com or through a local tax collector.
… the threatened bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii). This juvenile was found on Wallkill River Refuge in NJ and NY. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Susi von Oettingen recently talked about it and other species at risk on Fox News Connecticut (see here). Saving these species matters, she said, because they’re part of our conservation heritage. They also could have medical or commercial value.
Did you know that the spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides) gets its common name from the beautiful pattern on its shell that resembles a spider web?
Endemic to the dry, coastal areas of western and southern Madagascar, this small tortoise is partial to eating grasses, young leaves, and succulent plants, as well as insects. This shy chelonian is most active during the wet season (November through April) when the vegetation that it thrives on is lush. During the dry season, the spider tortoise buries itself deep in the sand and becomes dormant as the weather gets colder. This is believed to be an energy saving mechanism which allows the tortoise to retain necessary moisture until the wet season and the lush vegetation returns!
The TSA has been active in conservation programs in Madagascar, specifically with critically endangered spider tortoises and radiated tortoises, since 2007… read more here.
Preparing for Endangered Tortoise Reintroduction in Myanmar
by Heather Lowe
The Turtle Survival Alliance has been part of a highly successful collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Myanmar to conserve critically endangered and endemic turtles and tortoises since 2009. Our work began as an effort to build turtle facilities to breed and house rare and endangered turtles rescued from government confiscations.
After a marked decline in the 1990s and complete extirpation in the 2000s, the TSA (with WCS) began a highly successful breeding program for the Burmese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota). There are now more than 3,000 Star Tortoises at several facilities throughout Myanmar and we have begun an effort to reintroduce 150 of these animals back to their native habitat…
Mass Turtle Hatching In Brazil Produces Over 200,000 Babies
by Jeremy Hance
Biologists recently documented one of nature’s least-known, big events. On the banks of the Purus River in the Brazilian Amazon, researchers witnessed the mass-hatching of an estimated 210,000 giant South American river turtles(Podocnemis expansa).
The giant South American river turtle, or Arrau, is the world’s largest side-necked turtle and can grow up to 80 centimeters long (nearly three feet). Researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation marked and released 15,000 (around 7 percent) of the newly-born hatchlings in the Abufari Biological Reserve. Future surveys of the species will allow researchers to collect data on the individually-marked turtles in an effort to better protect them in the future…