Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas

A $25 tax-deductible donation to the Caribbean Conservation & Sea Turtle Survival League you will get a sea turtle folder containing a personalized adoption certificate, logo-decal, magnet, and a Sea Turtle Conservation Guide. They even have options to name your own turtle or adopt a sattelite tracked turtle so you can view their migration patterns online!

For as little as $35 you can adopt a sea creature via and get a free creature cookie cutter or cuddly plush toy. Every adoption comes with a personalized certificate and gift wrapping is available. Free shipping through Midnight on December 18th.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Naturalist Cure for Turtle Wounds

Have you ever wondered how doctors cured deep skin gashes prior to the invention of antibiotics? Some vets at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center are using one such method on injured turtles right now, with much success. The salve is a mixture of beeswax from mashed honeycomb coated with lots of natural honey. The beeswax plugs the wound, keeping out water and harmful bacteria, while the honey fights infection and boosts the immune system. If such a simple home remedy can heal a propeller gash in a turtle fin, I might just have to try it the next time I'm injured. It would definitely be cheaper than going to the doctor for stitches and buying a round of antibiotics.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Turtle Love from Florida!

According to WCTV in Tallahassee, a group of about 50 students, their teacher, and local environmentalists have taken great strides to help prevent turtle roadkill. When highway 27 was built in the 1960's, it disrupted the ecosystem of Lake Jackson by splitting the body of water in two. Turtles frequently try to cross the freeway to get to the other half of the lake, only to have their life ended abruptly by a passing vehicle... about two thousand each year. Thanks to the advocacy of these students and others, the local transportation planning agency has agreed to give this matter priority to federal funds set aside for such projects. Someday there will be an ecopassage underneath the bridge where turtles can safely cross as well as a barrier wall to prevent them from taking a walk on the wild side through speeding traffic. The agency needs about 1.8 million more before it can begin, but has already set aside 4.2 million dollars for this project.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Florida Proposes New Ordinance to Protect Baby Sea Turtles

According to officials will meet tomorrow at 5:30 PM at the Hollywood Beach Culture and Community Center to discuss a new ordinance that would protect baby sea turtles trying to find their way to the ocean for the first time. Hatchlings can be distracted from their trek to the beach by any lights in the area, thus officials are discussing dimming the lights on the beach to help the baby sea turtles find their way to the ocean. If you live in the area, please find your way down there to thank the politicians for their concern and to voice your approval for the ordinance. Hatchlings face enough threats from nature. It's about time we helped them find their way.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A True Turtle Hero

The fight to save the sea turtles has many heroes, but few quite as young and inspiring as Casey Sokolovic. She was just a third-grader when she fell in love with sea turtles during a visit to the Karen Beaseley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Since then she has done more than many adult turtle lovers could fathom. She began by making and selling turtle shaped cookies at her school’s family science night events. Later she began trying to educate others through a self founded program she named LAST (Love a Sea Turtle). Casey gets her whole family involved by scouring the beach for turtle tracks early each morning and marking nesting areas to keep the eggs protected. Yet Casey is not satisfied with the thousands of dollars she has raised or the many people she has educated and inspired. She has plans to organize a fundraising walk, start a turtle website, and has even begun talks with a coffee company about creating a special product to raise money for the Karen Beaseley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. I am thrilled to learn that Casey surpassed more than 700 of her peers to become one of five finalists for this year’s Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. This is one amazing girl… definitely one of Pokey’s heroes.

For more information:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Save the Softshell

Since 75% of asia's 90 tortoise and freshwater turtle species are now endangered or extinct, they must turn to the global market in order to feed the insatiable demand, particularly that of China. The United States proved to provide the most competitive cost for turtle meat and thus has been a primary source for obtaining the supposedly medicinal and edifying protein source. Gradually, various states have placed bans or restrictions on commercial fishing to protect further species from extinction. The pressure is now on in Florida to protect the species the Chinese claim to have the most palatable meat: the softshell turtle.

Previous restrictions limited commercial fishermen to a few select lakes during the appropriate season and new regulations state that a non-licensed fisherman may only catch 5 turtles per day, while licensed fisherman may take up to 20. Locals and commercial fishermen are outraged at the new limitations and feel there is no threat to the current population, but it seems to me they are ignorant of the reality that it takes 10 years for a turtle to reach maturity. There is no way the current turtle trade can continue to harvest and export up to 3,000 lbs. per week out of Tampa International Airport and expect the species to remain undepleted.

For the fishermen to whine about their change in possible income seems even more rediculous. With the going rate being $2/lb, an agressive fisherman who follows the rules could make $1500 - $2000 per week by harvesting approximately 140 turtles... still too generous, if you ask me. We must urge the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision to act swiftly in their study of the impact on the population and to tighten regulations as soon as possible. While I agree with the Chinese that turtles are truly magical creatures, I do not belive you need to ingest them for your life to be enhanced.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Evolution of the Turtle Shell

Part of the mystique of the turtle is that little is known about its origins. Did they evolve from dinosaurs, lizards, or do they stand alone as the only creatures adaptable enough to pass the test of time? Paleontologists have been clueless for centuries, but recently made a jump forward in knowledge with the discovery of a 210-million-year-old fossil, Chinlechelys tenertesta, in New Mexico. Years after the discovery of the first fragment, scientists Walter Joyce and Spencer Lucas feel they have solved the mystery of how the turtle got its shell.

The centuries old debate to explain the turtle’s unparalleled animal armor has two sides. Older theories pose that the shell developed from the ribs, which flattened and fused over time. Most modern scientists believe the shell was actually a separate material, hardened skin, which after years of evolution became fused with the rib bones. The fossil which was discovered appears to prove that the latter is true.

It took nearly 20 years of analysis and the discovery of many additional fragments before Lucas and Joyce identified their findings. Originally, they thought it to be a head spike from some sort of dinosaur, but after comparing it to a German collection of Triassic-era turtle fossils they knew the true significance of their discovery. Not only were they certain it was a turtle fossil, they could see on the underside of the shell that the rib bones and vertebrae were completely separate from the shell at that point in time.

You may be wondering how solving the mystery of the turtle’s shell gets us any closer to figuring out what creature it may have evolved from. First of all, it may help narrow down the search are for turtle fossils, as less than a dozen have been discovered in the world to date. Furthermore, it shows that although logic might say that such specimens would have survived as a whole, we now see that it could take many smaller pieces to compile one piece of turtle history. Lastly, I imagine there were many paleontologists ready to throw in the towel after nearly 200 years of searching for the next clue. Hopefully this momentous discovery has provided enough inspiration to renew the quest for turtle fossils throughout the world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Help Find Butch

Turtles are better at escaping than you might think. My little pokey once managed to escape from her outdoor enclosure which was bordered by a two story stucco house on two sides and bricks placed one foot into the ground and two feet above the ground on the other two sides. I still haven’t figured out how a six inch box turtle pulled that one off, but thankfully, my story has a happy ending.

I recently read of a desert tortoise named Butch who went missing in Cupertino and it broke my heart. Butch was the beloved friend of Opal Carle, who died at age 93 this past summer. He was given to her as a gift when she moved into her home in 1943 and she left him to her daughter Penny when she passed. Penny believes that Butch was taken on the afternoon of September 25th while she was away from the home. I hope he merely escaped in some unforeseen manner as that would increase the chances he might be returned, but Penny is convinced he was stolen.

I hope the average person can understand how a pet that is in the family for 65 years can become as dear to you as your own child. I pray that someone will find him and take him home. Time could be running out for this elderly tortoise, estimated to be 150 years old. Life is fragile for these mystical creatures – he could easily catch pneumonia if not properly cared for through the winter. Please spread the word about Butch and help send him back to his family.