Every year, on May 23rd, turtle enthusiasts and people concerned with the conservation of turtles around the world come together to celebrate World Turtle Day. World Turtle Day aims to raise awareness about the incredible turtles, the need for their conservation, and the importance of preserving their natural habitats.
From its fascinating history to engaging activities and inspiring themes, World Turtle Day brings people of all ages together to appreciate and protect these ancient creatures. Just like many other reptiles, the importance of turtles is majorly under rated in our ecosystem and the work done by their presence leaves no room for error in our biodiversity and ecosystem.
It is estimated that there are nearly 356 different species of turtles, however all these species are categorised broadly into three different categories, the marine turtles, the terrestrial or land turtles and the freshwater turtles. The species of turtles are categorised mainly upon their habitat.
As depicted in their name, marine turtles are the turtles who live in the sea and water, they only come towards the shore for nesting. On the other hand, land turtles are accustomed to the land, forests, grasslands, etc and do not go near the water unless they are thirsty.
Sea turtles have flippers, and can’t retract into their shells. Whereas, land turtles live on land, have legs, and can retract into their shells.
The Origin and Themes of the day.
World Turtle Day was first celebrated in 2000. It was initiated by the American Tortoise Rescue (“ATR”), is a non profit organisation which dedicates itself to turtle and tortoise conservation. ATR was created by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson. They organise charity drives and actively work to spread awareness for the critical conditions of these shelled reptiles.
World Turtle Day Theme 2023
Every year, a unique theme is given to signify and highlight a specific aspect of turtle conservation and to celebrate World Turtle Day. It encourages individuals and communities to take action and make positive changes to protect these charismatic creatures and their environments.
The theme for World Turtle Day 2023 is “I love Turtles.” This theme aims to raise awareness about the importance of protecting turtles amidst their habitat crisis and the fact that their conservation is more important than ever. It aims to create awareness about the urgency required in protecting turtles. The ATR will celebrate world turtle day this year as well and will lay stress over the well being and safeguarding of turtles.
Engaging Activities for World Turtle Day.
Celebrating the World Turtle Day is not just about raising awareness with regards to turtle conservation but also about engaging in fun and educational activities. Here are some exciting ideas to celebrate this day:
- Organise a Beach Clean-up: This not only helps clean the habitat and environment clean but also saves the lives of many turtles who might mistake plastic debris for food, leading to tragic consequences. Gathering a group of volunteers and cleaning up a local beach or shoreline is a great way of celebrating the day. By removing harmful pollutants, you can create a safer environment for turtles and other marine life.
- Create Turtle Art: Creativity has a place everywhere and here in the conservation of turtles, unleashing your creativity and expressing your love for turtles through art is. great means of celebrating world turtle day. Paint, draw, or craft turtle-themed art and creatives and share them with your friends and family. You can also organise an art exhibition or contest to raise funds for turtle conservation organisations. This helps in the conservation and understanding the importance of conservation of turtles.
- Attend an Educational Session: Organising or attending educational sessions or workshops in schools can be a very innovative and informative way of celebrating the day. Hosting or attending a meet at a local community centre, or online platforms to teach others about turtle conservation. Sharing fascinating facts, discussing the challenges faced by turtles, and providing practical tips on how everyone can contribute to their protection.
- Joining Conservation Efforts: Reach out to your local organisations or even all around the globe organisations through online means who are involved in turtle conservation and inquire about volunteer opportunities. Be a part of their drive to make the habitat and world for turtles a slightly better place. Assist with rescue efforts, participate in habitat restoration projects, or engage in scientific research to contribute directly to the preservation of turtles.
- Spread awareness: Utilise social media platforms, blogs, and other communication channels to raise awareness about World Turtle Day. Share arresting and captivating stories regarding turtles, maybe something you knew but others did not and that made them realise the importance of the cause. Encourage others to join the cause and take action.
Why Celebrate World Turtle Day?
World Turtle Day is a very important day due to several reasons:
- Awareness: By celebrating World Turtle Day, there is promotion of awareness about the challenges turtles face, including habitat destruction, pollution, and illegal wildlife trade. It educates and encourages people to understand the importance of conservation and the role they can play in protecting the turtles.
- Preservation: Turtles are a very essential part of our ecosystems, they contribute to our biodiversity’s survival and maintaining the delicate balance of nature. By celebrating World Turtle Day, we acknowledge their immensely important role in the preservation of our biodiversity and ecosystem, and we make sure that we are aware enough people to make a change to preserve turtles and their natural habitats.
- Responsible Practices: World Turtle Day advocates for responsible practices towards turtles, such as responsible pet ownership and refusing to buy turtles from someone who uses malpractices against them, sustainable fishing methods, and reducing plastic pollution. It encourages individuals and communities to adopt eco-friendly lifestyles and make conscious choices that benefit turtles and their habitats.
Interesting Facts About The Marine Turtles
- There are seven species of marine or sea turtles. Six of them are threatened or endangered.
- A hatchling’s gender depends on the temperature of the nest. Hotter temperatures produce more females while more males emerge from cooler temperatures.
- Their shells are made up of over 50 bones fused together. They literally wear their bones on the outside. Turtle bones are light and spongy, which helps them float.
- The largest sea turtle species is the leatherback turtle.
- The Kemp’s ridley can weigh up-to 40kg, whereas a leatherback can weigh around 500kg.
- Sea turtles can hold their breath underwater for a very long time. Some sea turtle species can hold their breath underwater for up to five hours!
- Unlike a land turtle, a sea turtle cannot retract its limbs, head or neck under its shell.
- Sea turtles play an important role in maintaining the ecosystem of the ocean, by grazing on seagrass beds they maintain productive coral reefs and they also transport essential nutrients from oceans to beaches.
In conclusion, with the modern day amidst us and most of the animals and remarkable reptiles under the serious threat of endangerment and extinction, it becomes more important than ever that we celebrate World Turtle Day and learn as much as possible about the importance of turtles and how to protect them and their habitat. They are an essential part of our ecosystem and biodiversity and their protection is our duty.