Turtles are facing the greatest challenge in their evolutionary history, and there are too few people out there who are fighting hard to save them.
Turtles evolved about 200 million years ago, even before dinosaurs. Today they are found everywhere, from tropical rainforests to deserts, in freshwater, in saltwater and on land. But turtles are under attack, and populations are in decline. Areas of southeast Asia have lost up to 80 percent of their freshwater turtles in the past 10 years because of the high demand for them as food as well as the pollution from the manufacture of cosmetics and traditional medicines. Habitat destruction, fishing nets and the pet trade threaten turtles even more.
Turtle Rescue covers the conservation efforts of governments, scientists, conservationists and turtle lovers to protect these creatures and ensure their survival. The author covers the major threats to turtle populations and describes what is being done to protect them. Measures include protecting nesting grounds, turtle farming and captive breeding, and persuading people that medicine made from turtles is of questionable worth.
A list of organizations devoted to saving turtle species around the world is included for those who want to help.
About the Firefly Animal Rescue series:
The Firefly Animal Rescue identifies endangered and threatened species and what is being done to protect them. Combining lively, accessible text and stunning color photographs, each book provides a detailed overview of the species, describing its characteristics, behavior, habits, physiology and more.
"These attractive books are a call to action... fascinating readable accounts."
- School Library Journal
"Succinct introductions to the science and practice of wildlife conservation... written in accessible, lively language."
Pamela Hickman has published over 30 nature books for children. She has an Honors Bachelor of Environmental Studies and Biology and served as the Federation of Ontario Naturalists' education coordinator for seven years.
Talking of Turtles
Imagine a creature that evolved 200 million years ago -- before dinosaurs -- and exists almost unchanged today.
The turtle has long been a part of creation stories, often representing the foundation of Earth. Native North Americans tell a story about a giant turtle floating in a primitive sea, with all the animals on its back. A Hindu tale describes the world as resting on the backs of four elephants that, in turn, stand on the shell of a turtle. For children today, the turtle stars in favorite stories ranging from The Tortoise and the Hare to the Franklin books.
Turtles carry the "slow and steady" label around with their shells, but a closer look reveals many surprises. There are about 270 turtle species in the world today. Large land turtles are commonly called tortoises, and the smaller freshwater species are referred to as terrapins. The sea turtle family includes the largest of them all, the leatherback. It has remained virtually the same for 20 million years, but is less than half the size of its ancient ancestor, the Archelon. A 70-million-year-old Archelon fossil found in 1996 measured 20 feet (6 m) wide at its front flippers.
Around the world, turtles are in decline. Parts of Southeast Asia have lost up to 80 percent of their freshwater turtles in the past 10 years, thanks to an unending demand for food and traditional Chinese medicine. Habitat destruction, pollution, fishing nets and the pet trade are also threats. Every species of sea turtle is endangered.
The good news is that governments, scientists, conservationists and turtle lovers have rallied together. They are committing their expertise, time and money to save the most endangered species, and to control the factors that threaten others around the world.
Turtles have been around a long time. They are survivors. Having lived through the mass extinctions that wiped out the dinosaurs, they are now facing their biggest threat yet -- people.
Talking of Turtles