Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Have You Hugged A Turtle Today?

A little known fact - and not on any calendars in our house - but today is World Turtle Day. (This whole Giselle thing feels a little like kismet to me...)


In honor of this day, and in honor of our new family member, here are a few things to consider:

(from the Wildlife Conservation Society)

Speak out for sea turtles Urge Congress to increase support for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, a federal program that provides funding to help protect imperiled species such as sea turtles. These funds have supported efforts to monitor wildlife populations, train local conservationists, and enforce laws to protect wildlife habitat. Act now!

Choose ocean-friendly seafood Bycatch, the incidental catch of non-targeted marine life in commercial fishing gear, is a huge threat to species like sharks and sea turtles. According to the Pew Oceans Commission, 60 billion pounds of marine life is discarded every year as bycatch. By choosing sustainably harvested fish from the WCS Go Fish Seafood Wallet card, we can help make healthy choices for the ocean.

Stop the skin trade Only a reptile needs a reptile skin. But handbags, shoes, boots, and other accessories made from reptile skins continue to be en vogue, contributing to the loss of tens of millions of wild animals each year, including snakes, lizards, sea turtles, and crocodilians. Visit to learn what you can do to stop this devastating trade.

Choose your pets responsibly Many species of turtles are exploited for the pet trade, which includes black markets for protected and endangered species. The capture of turtles in their natural habitats disrupts their lifestyle and can have serious environmental consequences. If you must have a turtle or other reptile as a pet, please consider adopting one from a local shelter or rescue group.

We feel really lucky to have found Giselle. But do know that she is a huge commitment. We have learned that around 43% of the world's turtles are endangered due to changes in their habitat and illegal trade. That the dumping of red-eared sliders, like Giselle, along the West Coast, has played a part in the dwindling population of native Pacific Pond turtles. And it is estimated that 15,000 (!) are dumped in the Sepulveda River Basin (near our home, and where Giselle was found) yearly! But in the Mississippi river system, where the sliders originated, they are in decline. In the U.S. it is illegal to purchase a turtle that is less than 4" long. But the hatchlings are still regularly sold. These little turtles have an almost 100% mortality rate.

Giselle has obviously been around for a while. She is almost 12 inches long and is estimated to be around 35 years old (my peer!). (She could live up to another 15 years or so.) We have been told that keeping her in a tank would be cruel, so for now she has taken over a fenced corner of our yard and is enjoying her own kiddie swimming pool (to the envy of the bugs) with a ramp so that she may enter and exit on her own while we begin construction on a "turtle sanctuary" in our breezeway. We let her have free reign over the rest of our yard when we are around to keep an eye on her and she loves to roam. She is beautiful to watch. Seems to be comfortable around us. And we look forward to making the next years of her life as stressfree and enjoyable as possible.



Alicia A. said...

Sounds like one lucky turtle!

molly said...

I love it.
We found little baby turtles in the pond here (about the size of a 50cent piece.) I was calling them red eared sliders, but now I think I'll have to look more closely at them. Of course, emma wanted to take them home to raise, but we put them back in their happy habitat.
it sounds like giselle has found a wonderful home!

melissa f. said...

so great.

this single spark said...

giselle is lovely! i was mistaken yesterday when i said we had them here. except at my sister's house! we have two turtle species in mb, the painted turtle and the snapping turtle. so any sliders that i may have seen must have been dumped. hopefully i was simply mistaken (not being an expert or anything!)

so happy you are giving her a good home.

Tracy said...

thanks all!

molly - they may very well be red-eared sliders. "dumped" populations have taken hold all over the place (including within the "city of l.a.)- pushing out native species. or they could be native... i don't know.