First and foremost, I think it’s only appropriate that I tell my fellow readers how I chose to write about this day mainly because Turtle has been my nickname ever since I was in secondary school. Secondly, I really do love turtles, and this would be my second article in Zilzarlife which features turtles. The first article can be found here; It is about a poor turtle that had a plastic straw stuck in its nose which was extracted by kind marine biologists that passed by.
Now, what day was I referring to? World Turtle Day, of course.
World Turtle Day
World Turtle Day has been sponsored annually since 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue to bring attention to actions needed to help tortoises and turtles survive and thrive. People around the world can celebrate this day in various ways, including dressing up as a turtle, saving turtles stuck on highways – if you see one, research activities and so many more. You can get more information about World Turtle Day at their Facebook page here or at their website www.tortoise.com. To ‘shellebrate’ World Turtle Day, you can choose to donate to turtle rescue organizations or simply go green to help the turtles have a better environment to live in!
Some Turtle Numbers
You see, turtles are one of the oldest reptiles to have survived through years and years of evolution, dating back to almost 220 million years ago, but their numbers have dwindled due to the destruction of the environment, loss of habitat, pet trading and accidental capture among others. Some cultures even see turtle eggs and flesh as delicacies! Sheer horror, isn’t it?
However, those lucky enough to visit or live near beaches where turtles still visit would have a chance see them coming up the shore at night to lay their eggs. Fun fact, if you don’t already know, turtles return to the shore where they are born to lay their eggs. This is so that the mother turtles can pass on their parasite-resistance genes to their offsprings, thus helping them to fight the local parasites present at their birth place. Male turtles, unlike female ones, would travel to other oceans and usually stay underwater their whole lifetime. One of the few best places to watch baby turtles hatch is at:
- Pulau Tioman, Malaysia between March and October
- Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica ; from July to October and March to May at the Caribbean Coast and from October to February and July to November at the Pacific Coast
- Ras Al Jinz, Oman, all year round but peaking around July
While our genders are determined upon fertilisation, turtles’ genders are determined by the temperature of their environment! For most species, males turtles will be born at 28°C or below and females at 31°C and above. In intermediate temperatures, the eggs will give rise to both genders. Female turtles are really cool, don’t you agree? P.S.: Pun intended!
If you have ever thought that turtles don’t make noise, you’re wrong! They don’t have a vocal cords, but by pushing air into and out of their lungs, they can emit various weird noises. Some accounts of different turtle noises include the giant musk turtle which yelps like a dog when it’s attacked or startled and the female leatherback sea turtles which make sounds akin to humans belching when they are nesting, as seen in the video in this link.
Snapping turtles are very well known for their strong jaws and aggressiveness. Not many, however, know that snapping turtles have a very keen sense of smell, especially for dead carcasses in water. This has lead to them being used by police officers at some point to find human corpses underwater. All the police had to do was to tie a line to the turtles and let them lead their way to the dead body! In the 1980s, snapping turtles were also bred in attempt to clean the Ganges river pollution as it was so full of dead bodies which weren’t cremated. However, as the snapping turtles were kept in captive when they were raised, they couldn’t survive in the wilderness upon their release and the plan to clean the river failed.
Weird Turtle Breaths
Being one of the weird turtle facts that you might see circulating on Facebook sometimes, it’s actually partially true. Certain turtle species such as the Australian Fitzroy river turtle and the North American Eastern painted turtle were found to draw in water from their rear ends when scientists dripped a bit of food colouring near the turtles. Due to the turtles’ body structure – no ribcage, shell that doesn’t allow lungs to expand – some species found it easier to just use the blood-vessel-rich sacs near their rears to absorb air. Do note that, however, these turtles can also breath through their mouths if they wanted to. Sadly, some of the butt-breathing species are endangered as well.
Know any other interesting facts about turtles? Do let us know in the comment section below 🙂