How to celebrate World Turtle Day Down Under
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How to celebrate World Turtle Day Down Under

May 23rd is World Turtle Day. Oh, you didn’t know? What, have you been hiding your head like a tortoise?

Okay, I didn’t know either until the day actually arrived and I discovered it by surfing the World Wide Web in search of environmental stuff to blog about. There simply was not enough time to prepare for the festivities.

You may be surprised to know that World Turtle Day has only been observed for 24 years. It was founded by American Tortoise Rescue way back in 1990, before most of you had heard about Tamagotchis, Nirvana or the Internet. Since then WTD has gone global.

Naturally, our Antipodean friends have taken World Turtle Day to heart.

In Queensland’s waters, home to 6 of the world’s 7 marine turtles, the Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is spreading the word about the plight of sea turtles and what the Centre does to help them. Listen to details of their work on ABC Brisbane breakfast radio.

Meanwhile, Australian Geographic has announced its dedication to saving the endangered Mary River turtle. A small activist organization Tiaro Landcare Group will receive help from the AG Society in their efforts to protect the nests of the Mary River turtle. AG will raise funds for Tiaro Landcare by selling cute little Mary River turtle magnets.

Elsewhere in Oz, marine biologists were joined by Environment Minister Andrew Powell in their annual health check of the turtle population of Moreton Bay. Read more about that here.

In New Zealand, a more feel-good anecdote about a little turtle who was suffering from floating syndrome and couldn’t dive. Locals rescued the tiny flatback turtle, christened him Leroy, and took him to the Reef HQ Aquarium turtle hospital in Townsville for treatment. He should be fine in a few months.

There is also a lesson to be learned from Leroy’s floating syndrome, which is often caused by turtles eating plastic bags or fishing hooks.

From AAP:

People need to minimise their use of plastics and plastic bags, but more importantly if they do use them they need to recycle them 

–Reef HQ director Fred Nucifora

So… Happy World Turtle Day! (Better late than never)

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Flatback turtle hatchlings. Pic: MacKay Region Natural Environment (Flickr CC)