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Green Sea Turtles Die on Farm – Do Meat-Trade Turtles Aid Conservation?

Green Sea TurtleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  An accident that caused the deaths of 299 endangered Green Turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm has raised concerns about the facility’s operation. The incident brought other issues to my mind as well.  I was first inspired by the legendary herpetologist Archie Carr, and have since been involved in several field studies of Green, Leatherback and other marine turtles (please see article below).  I see the value in organizations such as Cayman Turtle Farm, which raises turtles for the food market while also racking up important “firsts” in breeding and research.  However, many disagree with me.  What’s your opinion?  Any comments you may wish to post below would be much appreciated.

Conservation through Commercialization

Whatever your personal feelings concerning the consumption of turtles or other animals may be, it is clear that commercial farming can play a role in Chinese Softshellconservation. The classic US example is the American Alligator.  Legal protections helped, of course, but large scale breeding for the meat and hide trade made a huge difference in that species’ future.  Read More »

Turtle Conservation Update, with a Focus on the USA’s Native Species

Diamondback TerrapinsHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Eleven years ago, I traveled to Florida to assist folks from the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society and other groups in rehabilitating thousands of turtles seized in southern China (please see this article for details).  The event marked my introduction to what is now known as the “Asian Turtle Crisis”. Sadly, the situation remains dismal today.  Recent studies show that turtles in the USA also face an extinction crisis.  Yet the scale of the problem is largely unappreciated…for example, many conservation-minded people would be surprised to learn that over 12 million turtles were exported from the USA in the last 5 years (please see article below).

Year of the Turtle

2011 was designated as “The Year of the Turtle” by the Partnership for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) and affiliated groups.  Happily, North American species seemed to get a bit more attention than usual.  A recent article in Herpetological Review (2011: 42(2) 199-204) provided a comprehensive – if chilling – summary of the turtle-related concerns that PARC and others have been focusing on.  The very informative article is not available online, so I’d like to highlight some key points here. Read More »

12 Million Turtles Exported from USA in 5 Years – Here’s How to Help

Ringed map turtleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The plight of the USA’s freshwater turtles has taken a back stage to what has been labeled the Asian Turtle Crisis (a tragic situation, please see below)However, a full-blown crisis is in progress here as well.  In the past 5 years, over 12 million wild caught freshwater turtles were sent from the USA to food and pet markets abroad, while untold numbers were sold in-country.  Fortunately, you can make a real difference in their future by taking one simple step.  Please read on to learn how to take action to support CITES (Committee on International Trade in Endangered Species) protection for the USA’s freshwater turtles.

US Turtle Diversity and Conservation

It comes as a surprise to many people that the USA is home to more species of freshwater turtles than any other country.  Unfortunately, several of the states that support the greatest diversity and largest turtle populations offer little or no protection, despite strong evidence that many species are in sharp decline.  Food markets in China and Southeast Asia are the main importers of US turtles, but rarer varieties wind up in the pet trade the world over. Read More »

Turtles Seek Heat While Still in the Egg…Do They Also Choose Their Sex?!

Pelodiscus sinensisHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Turtles and other reptiles are full of surprises when it comes to reproduction.  In the past few decades we’ve learned that incubation temperature, not genetics, determines the sex of many species, that some have dispensed entirely with males (i.e. the Brahminy Blind Snake) and that the massive Komodo Dragon is capable of reproducing without fertilization.  Recently (May, 2011), biologists have determined that turtle embryos move within the egg and actively seek heat.  This finding may cause us to re-examine conservation techniques, and raises an array of important questions – i.e., can turtle embryos actually determine what sex they will be? Read More »

The Asian Turtle Crisis – a Sobering Update – Part 2

Chinemys reevesiiHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Asia’s freshwater turtles face an unprecedented extinction crisis, which may soon result in the loss of 90 or more species.  In 2001, I joined other turtle enthusiasts in south Florida to help process nearly 10,000 turtles of many species that had been confiscated on route to food markets in China.  The magnitude of the response to their plight heartened me, but today, unfortunately, we are still fighting an uphill battle.  Please see Part 1 of this article for details.  Following is a bit more on this sad situation. Read More »

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