Thursday, May 23, 2013
Chelmsford girl's mission is to protect area turtles
By Molly Loughmanfirstname.lastname@example.org
Increasing respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures, World Turtle Day is coming to Chelmsford, thanks to one 11-year-old’s determination to bring awareness to the gentle animals facing extinction.
Parker Middle School fifth-grader Katarina Monnes will host a turtle awareness and children’s activities program at the Chelmsford Library on Thursday, May 23, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., as a part of her Girl Scouts Bronze Award project.
"They are interesting creatures. They have been around since before dinosaurs and have many unique characteristics. Did you know turtles never age? Some scientists are studying that. They can live to be over 100 years old, and only die from injury or disease, not old age," said Monnes, who has raised funds for several national turtle foundations.
The turtle hurtle
Monnes is now making it her mission to save local turtles, of which at least three of the six species are listed as threatened or endangered. In Chelmsford, there are box turtles, painted turtles, snapping turtles, bog turtles, red-eared slider turtles and wood turtles. The wood, box and bog turtles are endangered species.
"I hope people learn how to help, what we’re doing wrong to hurt the turtles, how we can stop that and more ways we can bring up the number of turtles," said Monnes, who participated in a Junior Vet program at the Loggerhead Marine Rescue Center in Juno Beach, Fla. last year.
Since embarking on her Bronze Award project, Monnes met with Alexxia Bell, a founder of the Turtle Rescue League, to gain information about the species and ways to help.
With the help of her Girl Scout Troop 66349, Monnes will paint 10 Turtle Crossing signs for the Turtle Rescue League, using wood donated by the Chelmsford Lumber Company. Some turtle awareness signs near wetlands around town were stolen. Monnes plans to post more, especially on Smith Street, which abuts a large wetland complex associated with River Meadow Brook. Monnes’ turtle sign paint and supply was donated by Chelmsford’s Sherwin Williams store.
To get to the other side
"Turtles are endangered because of development (loss of habitat), pollution and being hit by cars on roads and injured by mowers," said Monnes, who encourages other to post signs where turtles are being killed or injured.
Monnes and her troop will also aid the Chelmsford Conservation Commission by cleaning up local turtle nesting areas, including Crooked Spring Pond at the end of the month. In addition, they’ll conduct turtle spotting over the summer to check for injured or dead turtles.
"Be careful when mowing and avoid mowing fields in June and August, take shorter showers and restrict lawn watering (to conserve water and avoid draining our ponds), recycle and cover your trash and recycling bin," Monnes said.
On Thursday, Monnes, with the help of Cori Rose of CCC, will provide a poster identifying heavy turtle crossings streets in town and where people need to be especially cautious during May and June, which is turtle hatching season.
"In the spring, usually between May and June, the mature female turtles leaves the wetlands, streams and woods to travel to nesting sites to deposit their eggs. This is when single adults are likely to be lost to roadway mortality," said Rose, adding in August and September after hatching from the nest, the hatchling turtles start making their treacherous trip back to their natural habitats where they will spend most of their life.
"If people can be vigilant and slow down in known crossing or nesting areas, especially at dusk and dawn after a day of rain in May and June, individual mortality and population-level impact could be reduced," she said.
Monnes will create flyers for neighborhood distribution informing others to watch out for turtles and encourage people to help the turtles they find on the roads.
According to Rose, if a turtle is in the road, try to protect it while it crosses, if it is safe to do so. If a turtle needs assistance to cross a road, always take it across the road in the direction it was heading. Try to minimize handling as much as possible. Hatchlings can be relocated by bucket.
"Not only can adults learn about turtles, but even kids. I’m hoping kids will learn not to take them home for pets and learn about how you can help. I’m hoping to get at least 20 people," said Monnes, explaining turtles shouldn't be sold in pet stores.
For more information or how to help turtles, visit turtlerescueleague.com. For lists of turtles in Mass. and to sign up to be a "turtle spotter" for the Turtle Atlas, visit turtleconservationproject.org
Turtles in the road
1. The intersection of Riverneck Road, Billerica Road (Route 129) and Turnpike Road
2. Concord Road and Boston Road (Route 4) in the vicinity of Harvey Road
3. Boston Road in the vicinity of Wildes Road and Roberts Street
4. Brick Kiln Road near Alpine Street and UPS Road
5. Riverneck Road near Canal Street and between Route 3 and the Lowell Connector
6. Smith Street, near Steadman Street
7. Near the intersection of Main Street and School Street
8. Littleton Road between Tadmuck Road and Garrison Road
9. Acton Road between Greenwood Road and Hart Road
10. Littleton Road (Route 110) between Enterprise Bank and Town Center
To monitor turtle crossings on your own with the help of online database reporting or to work with someone from the Conservation Commission, call 978-250-5248 or email email@example.com
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Traffic mortality is a significant threat to many species of turtles. There have been experiments -- both formal and informal -- on the human-animal relationship and intentional animal-automobile collisions.
|Ignore, rescue, or obliterate that turtle in the road?|
In the article below, College student's turtle project takes dark twist, the findings of the student's experiment is disturbing -- but not surprising. I did a roadkill study, a number of years back, for two years. And I found that most of the fatalities were to the side of the road -- the breakdown lane. And actually, one time, as I was about to approach a Painted Turtle to help it complete its journey across the street, a car came speeding along side and swirved into the breakdown lane and crushed it right before my eyes.
Unbeliveable, right? Read on.
College student's turtle project takes dark twist
By JEFFREY COLLINS | Associated Press – Dec 27, 2012
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson University student Nathan Weaver set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. He ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.
Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.
"I've heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking," said Weaver, a 22-year-old senior in Clemson's School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.
To seasoned researchers, the practice wasn't surprising.
The number of box turtles is in slow decline, and one big reason is that many wind up as roadkill while crossing the asphalt, a slow-and-steady trip that can take several minutes.
Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless creature under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.
"They aren't thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time," Herzog said. "It is the dark side of human nature."
Herzog asked a class of about 110 students getting ready to take a final whether they had intentionally run over a turtle, or been in a car with someone who did. Thirty-four students raised their hands, about two-thirds of them male, said Herzog, author of a book about humans' relationships with animals, called "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat."
Weaver, who became interested in animals and conservation through the Boy Scouts and TV's "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, wants to figure out the best way to get turtles safely across the road and keep the population from dwindling further.
Among the possible solutions: turtle underpasses or an education campaign aimed at teenagers on why drivers shouldn't mow turtles down.
The first time Weaver went out to collect data on turtles, he chose a spot down the road from a big apartment complex that caters to students. He counted 267 vehicles that passed by, seven of them intentionally hitting his rubber reptile.
He went back out about a week later, choosing a road in a more residential area. He followed the same procedure, putting the fake turtle in the middle of the lane, facing the far side of the road, as if it was early in its journey across. The second of the 50 cars to pass by that day swerved over the center line, its right tires pulverizing the plastic shell.
"Wow! That didn't take long," Weaver said.
Other cars during the hour missed the turtle. But right after his observation period was up, before Weaver could retrieve the model, another car moved to the right to hit the animal as he stood less than 20 feet away.
"One hit in 50 cars is pretty significant when you consider it might take a turtle 10 minutes to cross the road," Weaver said.
Running over turtles even has a place in Southern lore.
In South Carolina author Pat Conroy's semi-autobiographical novel "The Great Santini," a fighter-pilot father squishes turtles during a late-night drive when he thinks his wife and kids are asleep. His wife confronts him, saying: "It takes a mighty brave man to run over turtles."
The father denies it at first, then claims he hits them because they are a road hazard. "It's my only sport when I'm traveling," he says. "My only hobby."
That hobby has been costly to turtles.
It takes a turtle seven or eight years to become mature enough to reproduce, and in that time, it might make several trips across the road to get from one pond to another, looking for food or a place to lay eggs. A female turtle that lives 50 years might lay over 100 eggs, but just two or three are likely to survive to reproduce, said Weaver's professor, Rob Baldwin.
Snakes also get run over deliberately. Baldwin wishes that weren't the case, but he understands, considering the widespread fear and loathing of snakes. But why anyone would want to run over turtles is a mystery to the professor.
"They seem so helpless and cute," he said. "I want to stop and help them. My kids want to stop and help them. My wife will stop and help turtles no matter how much traffic there is on the road. I can't understand the idea why you would swerve to hit something so helpless as a turtle."
Source: Yahoo! News
An informal experiment.
There are things that we can do to help. You can read more about what you can do to help in the article, "My View: Slow-moving turtles increasingly at risk in our fast-paced world."
It all comes down to educating the public. Perhaps advocating for roadkill awareness to the DMV to introduce this into their Driver's Manual. Nowhere in their manual do they mention animals, (with the exception to horse-drawn vehicles), or roadkill.
Citizen involvement in turtle conservation efforts can help ensure that turtles will continue to be around to perform their role in the environment, and for future generations to observe and enjoy as part of our natural heritage.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
By Johnny Kelly
In the largest transport of rescued turtles in the New England Aquarium's 40-year history, a U.S. Coast Guard plane loaded with dozens of endangered sea turtles recovering from hypothermia were flown from Massachusetts to Florida.
The Cape Cod Online reports an C-130 plane with 35 sea turtles on board took off from the Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod Friday morning and landed at Orlando International Airport that afternoon.
Volunteers rubbed down each turtle with petroleum jelly to retain moisture during the flight, said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the aquarium.
The turtles, rescued from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary off Cape Cod, were recovering at multiple marine animal rescue facilities.
Twenty turtles were taken to SeaWorld Orlando. Five loggerhead turtles were taken to the Volusia County Marine Science Center. Three other facilities in Florida also took in turtles.
The flight cleared much-needed space due to the unprecedented number of sea turtles stranding on the Massachusetts coast in recent days.
LaCasse said the center surpassed its capacity for sea turtles after more than 100 arrived in the past 10 days.
The traveling turtles are part of at least 150 rescued from the beaches of Wellfleet Bay on Cape Cod by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, LaCasse said.
Of the 35 turtles flown to Florida, 15 were loggerheads, each weighing between 40 and 100 pounds and ultimately putting a strain on hospital resources because of their size, LaCasse said.
The aquarium’s tanks can normally hold five of the juvenile Kemp’s Ridley turtles, which usually account for 90 percent of the turtles found stranded. But the tanks can hold only one loggerhead.
The aquarium usually flies turtles on private planes, but this time the "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) intervened on an inter-federal agency level, and asked the Coast Guard if they had aerial resources to assign this flight,” LaCasse said.
The Coast Guard and NOAA are mandated to assist with turtle rescue efforts because of Congress’s Endangered Species Act, he said.
Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles but are still susceptible to infections at low body temperatures.
As ocean temperatures drop in the fall, the turtles get trapped in the Cape Cod Bay because they instinctively want to travel south to warmer climates, except the only way to do that is to exit the north end of the bay.
Many of the turtles develop hypothermia and wash ashore weeks later. By this time, many have no fat reserves and are suffering from dehydration and pneumonia and have fungal infections.
Sea turtle stranding season began in early November and last through December.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy has received 40 endangered, hypothermic sea turtles from Cape Cod during the last three days including, aquarium officials said Wednesday, a disproportionate percentage of large loggerheads and green sea turtles.
Three turtles arrived in Quincy Wednesday morning, and several more were due in later in the day. Staff and volunteers with the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay rescued the turtles.
The sea turtle stranding season begins in early November and lasts through December, aquarium officials said. So far this season, nearly 90 sea turtles have been rescued.
At the Quincy center, the turtles are warmed 5 degrees per day for several days until their body temperatures are in the 70-degree range. This slow re-warming process helps the turtles fight off infections, according to information provided by the aquarium.
Source: The Patriot Ledger
By Sarah N. Mattero, Globe Correspondent
Forty hypothermic sea turtles found on Cape Cod are being taken to the New England Aquarium’s care center in Quincy to be warmed up, the aquarium said today.
The endangered reptiles, mostly large loggerheads and green sea turtles, have been pouring in over the past three days, aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said in a statement.
Sea turtles often become stranded from early November through December, so volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay stake out the coasts each year in order to save them.
Despite the fact that sea turtles are cold-blooded, they are susceptible to infections at such low body temperatures. The aquarium takes the reptiles and warms them up 5 degrees a day until their body temperature reaches slightly more than 70 degrees.
Almost 90 sea turtles have been rescued so far this season, including the recent batch, the aquarium said.
Loggerhead turtles are both an endangered and threatened species and typically weigh up to 250 pounds and grow up to 3 feet long, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Green sea turtles are also an endangered and threatened species and can grow to about 3 feet long and weigh more than 300 pounds.
Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
By Sarah N. Mattero | GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
It’s not just humans who have to brave the cold weather as temperatures drop, but each year beach walkers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary on Cape Cod are on the lookout to rescue stranded sea turtles that are suffering from hypothermia.
Two sea turtles, weighing 3 and 5 pounds, are being re-warmed at the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy after they were found in Dennis and Brewster on Tuesday with body temperatures of less than 58 degrees.
Although sea turtles — being cold-blooded — can survive with low body temperatures, they are susceptible to infections at that state, so the aquarium is warming the turtles by 5 degrees a day for four days until their body temperature reaches slightly more than 70 degrees, the aquarium said. In comparison, humans can begin to experience mild hypothermia when body temperatures reach 95 degrees, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
These particular turtles are Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, which are the most endangered sea turtle in the world, the aquarium said. Each summer they migrate to Cape Cod to feed on crabs, but every autumn 25 to 200 sea turtles face difficulty migrating out of the Cape and cannot migrate back south. Eventually, and after some therapy, the rescued turtles will be released in warmer waters down south, the aquarium said.
Audubon volunteers are searching for more turtles this morning that are expected to appear after Wednesday’s nor’easter, the aquarium said.
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are considered to be the smallest marine turtle in the world, but adults can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to 28 inches in length, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration.
Source: The Boston Globe
Six turtles strand on the Cape
By Doug Fraser
WELLFLEET – Turtle stranding season began this week with six turtles washing ashore over the past two days.
Bob Prescott, executive director of Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary said all four turtles were in good shape and recovering at the sanctuary.
Two other turtles were found on Sandy Neck: a Kemps ridley turtle and a 60-pound loggerhead turtle.
Although the water temperatures remain relatively warm, these turtles were all cold –stunned, Prescott said, with lowered body temperatures after being blown ashore by high winds.
Two were recovered from Sandy Neck in Barnstable, one from Dennis and one from Brewster.
Patrols of volunteers were headed out after the tide dropped to look for more turtles that might have washed ashore, Prescott said.
Source: Cape Cod Times
Sunday, September 23, 2012
HARWICHPORT, Mass. (AP) — A 7-foot-long, 655-pound leatherback sea turtle found stranded near the tip of Cape Cod last week was released back into the wild after being treated for dehydration, trauma and shock, officials with the New England Aquarium in Boston said Sunday.
The turtle was found near death off the Truro shore on Thursday. Experts said it was underweight, lethargic and a large portion of its left front flipper was missing because of some kind of trauma. Aquarium officials say it may have become entangled in a vertical line of a lobster pot or boat mooring.
Veterinarians treated it with several drugs to stabilize its blood values and oxygen levels.
Aquarium officials say the turtle regained its strength, and they released it a couple miles off the Harwichport coast on Saturday. They say its prognosis isn’t clear.
Experts treated the turtle using information they obtained from research on leatherbacks over the past few summers.
Aquarium head veterinarian Charles Innis and rescue director Connie Merigo, who have rehabilitated nearly 1,000 sea turtles of smaller species, examined many leatherbacks weighing 400 to 1,000 pounds that they caught briefly and released off the cape and the islands, with the help of University of New Hampshire sea turtle researcher Kara Dodge.
The experts performed physical exams and collected tissue samples, and they used the information they obtained to treat the stranded leatherback.
Leatherback sea turtles are an endangered species and the largest reptile in the world. Aquarium officials say they migrate up the East Coast each June to feed on jellyfish in Massachusetts waters, and migrate back south for the winter in September and October.
The leatherback found Thursday was taken for treatment at the aquarium’s new marine animal care center in the former Quincy Shipyard. Rescuers used a dolphin stranding transport cart and a vehicle owned by the Cape Cod-based International Fund for Animal Welfare to bring it to the care center, where it was put into a pool.
After the turtle regained its strength, aquarium officials used a heavy tarp and forklift to load it into a vehicle that brought it to Harwichport. It was placed on the deck of a lobster boat and released with a tracking devise.
‘‘He dove deep right away and did not re-surface within sight of the boat,’’ aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said in a statement. ‘‘That is normal behavior for healthy leatherbacks that had been handled during the research field work. A couple of early hits came in off of his satellite tag indicating that he was moving.’’
© Copyright 2012 Globe Newspaper Company.