It is no secret around here (at least with the staff) that I am a big fan of turtles. I do not have the nickname of  “Turtle Tim” for nothing! For this reason I am excited about the event that took place on Tuesday, December 29, 2009. Filmmakers from the non-profit Equinox Documentaries, Inc. were in the NatureWorks “Cypress swamp” to shoot underwater footage of our native Florida turtles as part of a short documentary about a “turtle tagging” program on the Wekiva River system.

Peninsula Cooter

The contained environment of the cypress pond allows cinematographer and Equinox co-founder Bob Giguere to use an underwater high definition video camera to capture close-ups of turtles that live in the “swamp”. The footage will later be blended in with other video shot on and under the Wekiva River that highlights the tagging program.

Nature author and Equinox co-founder Bill Belleville will be onsite to answer questions about the filming, the forthcoming documentary, and the Wekiva River system. Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection representatives will also be on hand to field more scientific questions about the turtles and the tagging program.

Turtles are ancient creatures that walked the earth with the dinosaurs and today are important and visible elements in many ecosystems.  Many species play key ecological roles, serving as both predators and prey, contributing to the cycling of nutrients and acting as seed dispersers.

Florida is home to over 8% of the world's known turtle species and is a significant area for both turtle diversity and habitat. Twenty-five of the 54 turtle species found in the United States also occur in Florida. They are represented in upland communities, such as scrub and sandhill, in rivers, lakes, swamps, and even coastal habitats, such as salt marsh, mangrove communities and marine systems. Certainly, habitat diversity and species richness makes Florida a turtle hotspot.

Logerhead Mush

In June of this year, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) commissioners voted to enact the strongest conservation regulations for turtles than any other state in the country. Citing pressure from the harvesting turtles for food and the pet trade and the increasing toll that habitat destruction and highway mortality take, the FFWCC took recommendations from their own biologists, numerous turtle conservation organizations and concerns from the general public to develop these new regulations.

This was a big step for the conservation and preservation of Florida’s turtles and to ensure that future generations are able to view and enjoy these remarkable animals.

Turtles are “… creatures who are entitled to regard the brontosaur and mastodon as brief zoological fads” (Gilbert B.)

Snapping Turtle

 


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