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Celebrating Turtles: World Turtle Day 2011

By Ruth Hendry - 23 May 2011 19:23:0 GMT
Celebrating Turtles: World Turtle Day 2011

Q. What do turtles use to communicate?

A. A shell phone

OK, so the point of World Turtle Day 2011 isn't to tell bad jokes. But that's one way of getting the message across!

Sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue since 2000, World Turtle Day aims to increase our knowledge of, and respect for, turtles and tortoises. It also aims to encourage human actions to help turtles and tortoises survive and thrive.

Turtles have been around for about 200 million years, but many species are rapidly declining due to overfishing, habitat destruction and the pet trade. Now, with around 50% of all turtles and tortoises considered threatened, we need to celebrate these ancient species and concentrate on ensuring their survival.

People all over the globe celebrate World Turtle Day, in a variety of ways. In Costa Rica, authorities are using this day to appeal against overfishing and implement stricter guidelines for those who disobey fishing quotas. Every year, 250,000 marine turtles drown in fishing lines and nets. Despite protection within nature reserves, turtles are particularly vulnerable to overfishing as they are migratory species and often swim long distances to lay their eggs.

In honour of those 'heroes in a half shell', Encyclopaedia Brittanica lets the turtles speak for themselves today. Even RuneScape, an online gaming website, is getting in on the action. In possibly the most unusual celebration of World Turtle Day that I found, RuneScape are offering a variety of turtle based challenges: ''For the combat-focused we'll be helping the turtles win their age old feud with the Gnome Battle Tortoises by defeating as many of them as we can.'' If even online gamers are getting in on the turtle supporting action, there's nothing stopping you! Whether you adopt a turtle through MCS or WWF, or whether you wear your half shell to work, do something today to support the turtles.

For more information and to find out how you can help, visit the World Turtle Day Facebook Page.