World Turtle Day

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    2nd Jun, 2020

Context

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), along with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), its project partner in the ‘Biodiversity Conservation Initiative Phase II’, celebrated World Turtle Day.

About

What is World Turtle Day?

  • World Turtle Day is an annual event that has been taking place since 2000. It was founded by American Tortoise Rescue.
  • The purpose of World Turtle Day is to educate people about the things that they can do to protect the habitats of turtle and tortoises.
  • It is also a celebration of the joy that these reptiles bring to so many people on a daily basis.
  • World Turtle Day 2020 focuses on bringing attention and increasing knowledge on the subject of tortoises and turtles.
  • In addition, it also includes motivating humans to step forward virtually and help them survive.

American Tortoise Rescue:

  • American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) was founded in 1990 by husband and wife team Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson.
  • It is a non-profit organisation that rescues and rehabilitates all species of tortoise and turtle.

About Turtle:

  • Turtles are reptiles with hard shells that protect them from predators. They are among the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles, having evolved millions of years ago.
  • Most of the species of turtles and tortoises are vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered, according to the IUCN.
  • Turtles breathe air and lay their eggs on land, which makes them amniotes. Even though they spend most of their lives underwater, they still lay their eggs on land.
  • Most of the sea creatures are anamniotes, which means they lay their eggs underwater.
  • There are seven known species of sea turtles: loggerhead, green turtle, leatherback, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, flatback, and olive ridley. 
  • The turtle order, Testudines (or Chelonia), splits into two suborders, Cryptodira and Pleurodira, and then further splits into 13 families, 75 genera and more than 300 species.

Threats to Turtles

  • Fisheries Bycatch: The fishing industry contributes to the death of thousands to tens of thousands of sea turtles each year.
  • Coastal development: Every year, sea turtle habitats are destroyed because of shrinking coastlines. Wherever there is boat vessel traffic, whenever a new hotel or high-rise is built up along the shore, and wherever there is sea floor dredging and beach erosion sea turtle food supplies and nesting areas take a major hit.
  • Pollution & Pathogens: Marine pollution can harm sea turtles in many ways. Plastic pollution, discarded fishing gear, petroleum by-products, and other debris injure sea turtles through ingestion and entanglement.
  • Climate change: Climate change can impact the natural sex ratios of hatchlings, increase the likelihood of disease outbreaks, and can escalate the frequency of extreme weather events, which destroy nesting beaches and coral reefs.

The day is an opportunity for people to celebrate turtles as well as mobilize efforts in protecting them and their habitats globally.

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