Monday, April 16, 2007

Turtle Tracking and Warnings

According to the Associated Press, 11 female leatherback turtles fitted with satellite tracking devices will start the "Great Turtle Race" to raise awareness of a species threatened with extinction. The race will track the turtles on their annual 1,200 mile journey from Costa Rica's Pacific coast to the Galapagos Islands. 90 percent of leatherbacks have vanished and the species may disappear due to poaching, pollution and development near their nesting grounds.
Internet users can log on to, read about the turtles and track them over the next two weeks as they migrate to the islands off the Ecuadorean coast. Most of the competing turtles are expected to be in the water by today after laying their eggs in Costa Rica.

WARNING #1: Sea turtles are laying eggs along the Florida coasts too, especially the Space Coast, so it's time to follow the rules to protect them. Don't disturb nesting turtles, hatchlings or turtle nests. Leave them alone for their own good and because it's illegal. Turn off beachside lights that can disorient them, especially the hatchlings who head to the water based on the moon's position.

WARNING #2: Since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, "TMNT" (Raising Shell in 2007), hit theatres last month, pet turtle sales have soared. The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents with young children in the house not to buy turtles. According to the FDA, a four-week-old baby in Central Florida died last month from a salmonella bacteria infection. Details on the case were not released, but apparently bacterial samples from the family's pet turtle matched those found on the infant.
The FDA says that salmonella builds up on turtle shells and sickens about 75,000 people a year. Hand washing is the best way to prevent spreading the bacteria and you are advised to wear gloves when handling turtles.