I've Been Everywhere Dennis Daubney – Photography, Graphic Design, and Organic Living

25Jul/090

Realistically Saving Our Turtles

Six out of ten turtle species native to Massachusetts are  endangered according to the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). These include the Box, Wood, Spotted, Red-Bellied, Bog, and Blanding turtles. The summer time is a crucial time for our turtles as they move from waterways (often crossing busy roadways) to traditionally safe nesting areas.

Turtles are incredible creatures with lengthy lifespans. Unfortunately our turtles, in New England's most populous state, are either losing their habitat completely or having their traditional routes of travel interrupted with roadways. Often, they are prone to becoming the victims of vehicular manslaughter.  Their newly hatched offspring are vulnerable to vehicles, as well as a number of predators.

Mass. Wildlife recommends caution in assisting any turtle crossing roadways. If traffic is relatively light, you can safely move a turtle in the direction it is heading, but just assist it in crossing the road, nothing more. Turtles have their own genetic form of GPS, akin to a salmon traveling back to its spawning grounds.

Care should also be taken when handling Snapping Turtles. They should be handled by the tail and supported underneath the shell. A bite from a Snapping Turtle can sever a finger. The less you handle them the safer you will be. (Note: I am no expert on handling Snapping Turtles, so any advice taken from this post is taken at your own risk and I release all liability.)

Report Rare Species to Mass. Wildlife

The Turtle Conservation Project is also keeping tabs on the tracking and conservation of New England's turtles. Report your turtle sightings to the TCP! "Where citizen scientists monitor turtle populations."

I found the TCP site after helping a turtle cross a street just a week after reading Mass. Wildlife's report on turtles. I wanted to see about reporting the species. Species monitoring programs are key to scientific studies as well as the possible definition of our state's turtle population.

Although I haven't had the chance to photograph turtles in New England, I have photographed them elsewhere. Due to their slow nature on land, they may be easy to photograph. Submerged or partially submerged makes for a turtle photograph that I enjoy best.

Here are two photos of Australia's Eastern Long-Necked Turtle at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

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