A behind-the-scenes look at a hospital for severely injured turtles.
Turtles have been around for 220 million years -- longer than dinosaurs. But now their time might be running out. Of the roughly 300 species worldwide, more than half are threatened with extinction. Freshwater, marine and land turtles are all affected. And their biggest threat is us!
As the human race grows and expands on the planet, turtles are losing their homes, suffering the effects of pollution, the pet and food trade, killed by cars as they try to cross roads, and snared in fishing nets or by fish hooks meant to catch other species. Fortunately, a community of scientists, environmentalists and volunteers around the world are helping to protect and save turtles.
The author, Sue Carstairs, is a veterinarian at a turtle rescue and rehabilitation center. She reveals how she repairs shattered shells, broken jaws, and injured skulls, and nurses severely injured turtles back to health for release into the wild. Carstairs also explains how turtle eggs are harvested from injured mothers, incubated, raised in tanks and released into the wild. Organizations around the world performing similar work with land and sea turtles are also profiled.
What can readers do to help the worldwide effort to save and protect turtles? Two examples from the many offered in the book: participate in World Turtle Day, on May 23rd every year, sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue, and lobby for "turtle crossing" signs in nesting areas.
Sue Carstairs BSc, DVM is the executive director and medical director at the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre in Peterborough, Ontario. She also teaches veterinary science at Seneca College.
Have you ever seen a turtle? Maybe you've come across one in a rural area near your home, or at a wildlife center or conservation area. Even if you've never seen a turtle "in real life," you probably know a few things about them: they have shells (and most can hide their heads inside them); they move slowly; they are cold-blooded reptiles; they can live for a long, long time.
But there are many amazing things about turtles that you probably don't know. For example, turtles have been around for 220 million years--longer than the dinosaurs--and research tells us they haven't changed much since those prehistoric times. Small turtles can live as long as 50 years, while tortoises and sea turtles can live 100 years or longer. Turtles have no teeth and can't chew, which means they have to use other tools to help them eat. During the spring, summer and fall, they live and breathe the way humans do, with their lungs. But in the colder winter months, they can burrow into the mud at the bottom of a lake and hibernate, getting their oxygen in a different way.
There's a lot more that we can learn about and from turtles, but time may be running out. Of the roughly 300 species of turtles that exist today, more than half are threatened with extinction, making turtles one of the most endangered vertebrates in the world. Freshwater, marine and land turtles are all affected. What's threatening this amazing species? We are! As the human race grows and takes up more space on the planet, turtles are losing their homes, suffering from the effects of pollution and being sought out as pets and food. They are killed by trucks and cars as they try to cross roads, and they are snared in fishing nets meant to catch other species. Very few of the eggs turtles lay survive to maturity. The future looks bleak.
Thankfully, a community of scientists, environmentalists and concerned citizens has come together to help. All around the world, efforts are underway to protect and save turtles. In this book, you'll meet some of those people and learn about their work in education, rehabilitation and research. And you'll discover what you can do to help. But first, let's learn more about turtles.
A Note from the Author Introduction
1 Getting to Know Turtles
Glossary Resources Index