Turtles are the most ancient inhabitants of our planet. They even look like dinosaurs that have leaped from the book pages. According to some sources, it is believed that turtles have existed for over 220 million years on the Earth. Even the age of each individual may seem amazing. Some of the turtles are real long-livers. For instance, the elephant tortoise, also known as Aldabra giant tortoise may live for 250 years and more. A person can grow up several generations of ancestors over such a period! The turtles are the only representatives of reptiles with the body covered with shell. However, even this shell cannot save them from the main threat – the man…
As RIA Novosti reports with reference to Bioscience, 217 out of 356 tortoise species either are on the brink of extinction or have become extinct. Human activity and climatic changes leave almost no chance to reptiles that have made it through many natural catastrophes. One of the most known dangers for turtles is plastic. As TASS reports with reference to the studies performed by specialists from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, thousands of marine turtles die annually having got entrapped in plastic fishing nets.
Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, founders of American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), non-profit organization for protecting all tortoise species, have initiated the celebration of World Turtle Day on May 23. They bring old turtles to special houses for seniors and inform the people about the ways to take care of sick or abandoned turtles. One of the eye-catching messages on their website says: “Seeing a turtle crossing a busy street, please take it and set it off in the direction it has been traveling. If you try to make it return, the turtle will still choose the former direction.”
Many people may think that such situations are likely to be typical of America. However, we have our own turtles in Russia, for instance the European pond turtle. According to Sergey Ogurtsov, assistant professor of the Vertebral Zoology Department at the Biological Faculty of the Moscow State University, the most dangerous thing for the turtles lies in the separation of habitat. They lay eggs in the places where they have been born. The distance to the water body where they will head for may be long, and any road or fence built on their way will make this way harder. However, turtles can also pose a hazard sometimes. One can now meet red-eared turtles on the territory of Moscow, Moscow Oblast, and some other Russian regions. These species could be met on the coast of Gulf of Mexico alone before, yet today these are popular enough exotic pets. People adopt a small and nice darling, but its predatory instincts come to light with time, and the owner decides to release it into the wild believing it to be the best way out. Thus, they find themselves in the areas where red-eared turtles have never lived… There, in the established ecosystems, invasive turtles pose a serious threat, as new predator comes to this area, and some animals will have one more natural enemy.
Based on open sources
Source of photo on the homepage: 123rf.com