Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Year of the Turtle and World Turtle Day

The Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) coalition has designated 2011 the YEAR OF THE TURTLE. Today, still May 23 at this writing, is WORLD TURTLE DAY!

Like other folks, those of us in behavioral research with captive animals can get too comfortable with our own role and, in our busy lives, not find time to work for species protection in the wild. Our Chelonian Connection lab, though, is starting to work in that direction. Recently we did a training for volunteers at our local wetland preserve at Jackson Bottom, and the Chelonian Connection lab has just been accepted into the PARC coalition, joining wildlife, veterinary, and reptile conservation organizations worldwide in the year's emphasis on turtle conservation, starting with public awareness.

        PARC asks, “Why Turtles, and Why Now?”

Their answers are alarming.

“Turtles are disappearing from the planet faster than any other group of animal. Today, nearly 50% of turtle species are identified as threatened with extinction. However, it's not too late for our turtle heritage to be salvaged. The United States has more endemic turtle species than anywhere on Earth; a turtle biodiversity hotspot. Our careful stewardship can preserve the rare species and keep 'common species common.'

“Throughout the year, we will be raising awareness of the issues surrounding turtles through press releases, newsletters, photo contests, and related events. We believe that citizens, natural resource managers, scientists, and the pet and food and related industries can work together to address issues and to help ensure long-term survival of turtle species and populations.”

Lonesome George, last of his species
The PARC web site and newsletter are full of interesting and useful features. One intriguing game, just up for World Turtle Day, is a set of digital flip cards of the 25 most threatened turtle species, including the Galapagos Islands’ famous tortoise, Lonesome George, and a Vietnamese water turtle, both the last of their kinds. Click the swaying photos and operate the circular arrows, flipping the cards over to learn a bit about the animal. Then send it to every kid (of every age) that you know.

There’s lots more: a photo contest, newsletters, a video, opportunities to contribute writing, reports and info about the reasons turtles are in such danger, info on head starting (as is done in western Oregon and Washington with great success for the western pond turtle—more on that sometime), other action, mapping, meetings, a turtle screensaver, monthly turtle calendars, and so on—a nice mix of valuable information and intriguing, fun reasons to take a look.

It’s all here: http://parcplace.org/news-a-events/year-of-the-turtle.html

And don’t miss the flip cards in the TiltViewer at http://parcplace.org/YOT_flip_cards/index.html