If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer exhibit has gotten you out of your shell, now is the best time to learn how you can be a friend to more than 30 species of turtles that call Florida home! With these little reptiles being a staple of our lakes and oceans, it’s easy to forget how turtley remarkable they really are. Can you believe some of your neighborhood turtles could possibly be older than you?
These tough creatures may have shells made of over 50 bones, but they still need our help to survive. With 61% of freshwater turtle species and nearly all sea turtle species endangered, it’s up to us to take some easy steps to protect our favorite semi-aquatic neighbors.
Here are Four Ways You Can Help Save Turtles
- Many plastic items are mistaken as food by turtles when they end up in our waterways. Using reusable bags, straws and water bottles not only saves you money, but also helps protect our ecosystem.
- Litter on our beaches can be dangerous, especially to the 68,000 loggerhead turtles that nest on our coasts annually. Make it a goal to pick up any litter you find when having a beach day.
- Give nesting turtles plenty of space and never disturb a nest if you come across one. If you're fortunate enough to see sea turtles hatching, maintain your distance and turn off all lights from your portable electronic devices.
- Having a turtle as a pet is a lasting commitment not just for you, but for the turtle. Only take responsibility for one if you have a long-term plan. Many unwanted turtles are released into the wild and cannot survive on their own.
The Chelonian Research Institute, Sea Turtle Preservation Society, The Central Florida Wildlife Center and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee are great community partners for anyone who wants to learn more about Florida’s turtles and what we can be doing to help save them.
Visit NatureWorks on the first level of the Science Center to see and even safely touch our beautiful native Turtles and Tortoises!
This information was sourced from See Turtles, Tufts Wildlife Clinic, and The Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory.