Stories tagged turtles

Tuesday!
Tuesday!Courtesy Saspotato
What? You wanted more? I think the headline pretty much says everything you need to know, but apparently turtles fart, brussel sprouts make them fart more, and the sprout-fueled farts of one green turtle are enough to set off the overflow sensors in a 250,000-liter-tank.

Nature is like a song, isn't it? Like a beautiful symphony.

A wood turtle
A wood turtleCourtesy Gary Soup

Check out this video I heard about on Science Friday. Michael Musnick, a citizen scientist who studies wood turtles 60 miles north of New York City, found turtles dying in the railroad tracks and proposed a solution to New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority: tiny turtle bridges. And the bridges work and are helping the turtles. Which is awesome.

My question: If the turtles are too short to escape when they are between tracks, how do they get in-between the tracks in the first place?

Jun
15
2008

Return of the native: For the first time since the 1930s, a leatherback sea turtle has nested on Padre Island, Texas.
Return of the native: For the first time since the 1930s, a leatherback sea turtle has nested on Padre Island, Texas.Courtesy NOAA

For the first time in 70 years, biologists have confirmed that a leatherback sea turtle has nested in Texas. Though they did not see the animal itself, the researchers found its unmistakable tracks and a freshly-dug nest.

The leatherback, the largest reptile in the world, is endangered worldwide. Many drown when caught in fishermen’s nets. Poachers steal their eggs. Development encroaches on the sandy beaches the turtles need for their nests. The return of at least one turtle to Padre Island, Texas is hopeful sign that the species may be making a slow comeback.

You can learn more about leatherbacks turtles here and here.

Not the same turtle: But I only count one flipper.
Not the same turtle: But I only count one flipper.Courtesy jurvetson
This green sea turtle was found by tourists after having lost all but one of her flippers. With the help of the nonprofit group Sea Turtle Inc. she was able to survive, and her wounds were healed. Unfortunately, with just one flipper, the turtle can only swim in counterclockwise circles, and has to push herself off the floor of her pool with her head in order to surface for air. That's mostly sad.

She does, however, have a little stump left where one of her flippers were, for which her caregivers hope to construct the first prosthetic sea turtle limb ever (probably.)

A prosthetic turtle flipper. All right.

Jun
20
2007

Eyed up: A handler recently displayed the newly hatched Beal's four-eyed turtle at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. There are only 18 known Beal's four-eyes in captivity. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Aquarium)
Eyed up: A handler recently displayed the newly hatched Beal's four-eyed turtle at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. There are only 18 known Beal's four-eyes in captivity. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Aquarium)
I’ve lived most of my life with glasses, but thankfully have never been called “four eyes” before. It must be a termed used solely in comic books and bad movies.

But the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is quite proud of its new four eyes, a rare Beal’s four-eyed turtle, which recently hatched. Don’t get all panicky, it is not some genetic mutant freak turtle. It only has two actual eyes, but also two white spots on the top of its head that look like another set of eyes.

It is now one of only 18 four-eyers known to be in captivity in the U.S. and Europe. Years ago, the species were fairly common in the wild in China but its population numbers have dropped due to low reproduction rates.

I never knew such a rare turtle existed. But now I’m thinking –- here at the Science Museum of Minnesota, we have a pair of preserved two-headed turtles on display in our collections gallery. Aren’t they the “real” four-eyed turtles?

Apr
18
2007

The great race: Satellite technology is keeping tabs on the progress of 11 leatherback turtles as they migrate from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands in the Great Turtle Race.
The great race: Satellite technology is keeping tabs on the progress of 11 leatherback turtles as they migrate from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands in the Great Turtle Race.
The Kentucky Derby is still a few weeks away, but there’s another big animal race taking place right now deep in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The Great Turtle Race started on Monday as 11 leatherback turtles left the shores of Costa Rica on their spring migration to the Galapagos Islands. They should complete the 1,200-mile journey within the next couple weeks. Satellite tracking equipment is strapped to each turtle and their progress is being monitored on the website www.greatturtlerace.com. The tracking information measures their progress toward the island and also how deep they’re diving into the ocean.

Leatherback turtles are an endangered species that some environmentalists fear could be wiped off the Earth in the next 10 years. The female populations of the turtles have dropped from 115,000 in 1980 to less than 43,000 today.

I'm recommending this New York Times article about turtles and their amazing abilities to withstand adversity. They can go without food and water for months at a time, their armored bodies can withstand the impact of a stampeding wildebeast, and they're among the longest-living creatures on Earth. And they don't succumb to old age: if they didn't get eaten, smashed by cars, or pick up diseases, they just might live indefinitely. But for all that, at least half of all turtle species are in trouble, and some of them may be extinct within the next decade.