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Tour de Turtles Journey from Cuba to Florida

This past Summer, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Maria La Gorda, Cuba, the far most western tip of Cuba as part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy Sea Turtle Expedition. While the core part of our trip was to tag sea turtles to be entered in the upcoming Tour de Turtles race, the trip also provided a wonderful introduction to Cuba. Beginning with a two night stay at the Historic Hotel Nacional and a tour of the five plazas in historic Old Havana, we then left Havana for Maria LaGorda. On the way to Maria La Gorda we visited Laz Terrazas, a former coffee plantation worked by slaves, that has been reforested and converted into an ecotourism resort. With the end of slavery, coffee was not as profitable. The new resort has provided jobs, education for the community, and a new pride in the local people. […]

Wildlife And Fishing Gear Don’t Go Together

WARNING: Graphic photos below. As a Wildlife Custodian I often encounter wildlife who have had a run in with discarded fishing gear. I recently was on the receiving end of a Northern Map Turtle who had swallowed a fishing hook. This was my first experience with the actual fisherman bringing out an animal who had accidentally swallowed a hook. Northern Map Turtle who swallowed a fishing hook I full well realize that nobody has this happen on purpose, but most fishermen simply cut their line and move on when they hook a turtle. This action will often result in a slow death for the turtles involved. However, this time the turtle came to us, but we were unable to reach the hook through the oral cavity, so we called on our vet to assist to surgically remove the hook. x-ray of the map turtle The surgery went well. The hook had perforated the esophagus and was removed through the side of the turtles neck. After several weeks of recovery with the help of pain medications and antibiotics the turtle was successfully returned to her natural habitat […]

Photo: Green sea turtles hovers effortlessly in the water

“Effortless hovering” is how Rick Derevan described this turtle as it was photographed. […]

Turtle Excluder Devices: A Controversy That Works in Malaysia

Sea turtles across the planet face a range of pressures. Hunting, egg collection, loss of nesting beaches, habitat alteration, and possibly most pervasively, bycatch in commercial and artisanal fisheries. I have spent the last 20 years working with turtles in Malaysia. During that time, a major objective has been to protect these aquatic dinosaurs from becoming bycatch by convincing shrimp fishermen to install Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) in their nets. Almost 10 years since I first approached fishers, the Malaysian government has implemented a nationwide program to have TEDs installed in shrimp trawlers. […]

What To Do When You Find A Small Green Turtle In A Red Plastic Cup On Your Porch

Greg Guthrie and his family recently came home to Washington, D.C. from a long weekend away to find an unexpected visitor on their porch: a very small turtle in a very large plastic cup.

“Sitting there between our screen door and our front door was a red Solo cup,” Guthrie says. “I looked down and saw that it had some dirt in it as well as something about the size of a peach pit. Thinking someone had oddly left some trash on my front porch, I picked up the cup and was startled to see the peach pit move. I turned on the light and noticed that it was, in fact, a tiny turtle.”

Guthrie was first relieved that the turtle hadn’t died before he’d gotten home. Wanting to keep it that way, he next checked with Capitol Hill neighbors to see if any of them had thoughts on how to take care of the turtle, “since they seem to know a lot about such things.”

“They quickly filled a wash basin with pebbles, stones, leaves and some water from their rain barrel. Then we fed the little turtle some earthworms from their compost pile,” he says.

The turtle in question. Photo by Greg Guthrie.

So far so good, to a point. Guthrie and his wife weren’t seeking a turtle pet. They also have “no interest” in returning the turtle to its original owner, for obvious reasons. They’ve thought about driving to the Anacostia River to “return it to the wild,” Guthrie says — only that isn’t the turtle’s actual wild.

“This looks like a red-eared slider,” says Paula Goldberg, executive director of City Wildlife, D.C.’s only urban wildlife rehabilitation center — and the folks who took care of the snowy owl who was hit by a bus, as well as the wee cast-wearing squirrel — looking at a photo.

And unfortunately, Goldberg explains, red-eared sliders are considered to be one of the worst invasive species around, so it’s bad news for everyone if the turtle is deposited down by the river.

“These turtles are raised on farms and are sold to the pet trade. They carry parasites and disease which impact native populations of reptiles and compete with native species for food and habitat,” she says. “Also, the turtle looks very small and could easily get attacked or eaten by a neighborhood cat or dog or a predatory bird.”

There’s no money to be made here, since the sale of turtles as small as this one is illegal. (Speaking of: Get in touch with your local natural resources authority, if you see a turtle under four inches big being sold, and contact the regional Food and Drug Administration office if you see a very small turtle being awarded as a carnival prize.)

So what to do?

Bringing the turtle to a specialized rescue group like the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society is an option — though the MATTS adoption coordinator, Katrina Smith, who literally wrote the book about red-eared sliders’ care, tells HuffPost the rescue is full up with turtles right now, and would prefer not to take in any new ones.

That leaves the Guthries with getting in touch with animal control, or relocating the bitty fellow to a local animal shelter. Except for yet another pint-sized hitch.

“Now my two-year-old son is fascinated by the turtle. He stared at it for a long while when we brought it inside, and he quietly whispered, ‘Hi, little guy.’ So, we may have adopted a new pet for the house,” says Guthrie. “Since the turtle’s future with our family is uncertain, we’ve avoided giving it a proper name. I suppose ‘Little Guy’ works for now, but given how things often turn about, it’s probably female.”

Email [email protected] with news to share about turtles or any other animals!


Snuffles, The Dog With 2 Noses, Sniffs Out New Home

“I’m feeding her with a bottle now and she’s doing very well,” he added.

Two Headed Snake 2011

“Us” is a 2 1/2-year-old, 4-foot long, two-headed carpet python residing at the World Aquarium in St. Louis. According to aquarium President Leonard Sonnenschein, it may be the only one in the world.

Two Headed Turtle 2010

Sonnenschein likened this unique musk turtle to the Pushmi-pullyu from the “Dr. Dolittle” story.

Unicorn Cow 2010

A dairy farm in China has an unusual cow that has three horns — two on either side of its head and one in the middle like a rhino horn. Farmer Jia Kebing, from Baoding in northern China’s Hebei province, said the 2-year-old cow was born with a small bump on its forehead. “With time the bump grew bigger and longer and become a sharp horn,” said Jia. The middle horn now measures nearly 8 inches long.

Two Head Cows 2010

Egyptian farmers feed a two-headed calf, which can’t stand on its own legs because it is top heavy, at a village near Alexandria, Egypt.

2 headed calf 2009

A vet feeds five month two-headed calf “Milagritos” (Little Miracle) in Cajamarca, Peru, on Aug. 19, 2009.

We 2007

We, a two-headed hermaphroditic rat snake, lived at the World Aquarium in St. Louis for 8 1/2 years before dying in June of 2007. In 2006, the aquarium unsuccessfully attempted to mate it with another two-headed snake.

Two Headed Pig 2007

A newly born piglet with one head, two mouths, two noses and three eyes is reflected by mirrors on March 6, 2007, in China.

Two Headed Turtle 2007

Store manager Jay Jacoby displays a two-headed red slider turtle at Big Al’s Aquarium Supercenter in East Norriton, Pa.

Birds 2006

Two baby conjoined barn swallows rest after a fall from their nest in Searcy, Ark. The rare bird discovery was made by a White County resident in her front yard.

Turtle 2007

Janus, the Geneva Museum of Natural History’s two-headed Greek tortoise, is presented to the press and the public during the official celebration of its 10th birthday on Sept. 5, 2007. Janus, named after the two-headed Roman god was born Sept. 3, 1997.

Cow 2007

Kirk Heldreth pets his two-faced Holstein calf in 2007, in Rural Retreat, Va. Despite her malformed mouth, the calf named Star fed from a bottle and is won over Heldreth, who didn’t expect her to live long after her birth. He had considered donating the calf to Virginia Tech for scientific purposes, or even selling her for show. Star has been drawing the curious to Heldreth’s southwest Virginia farm, which sees about 40 to 50 visitors daily.

Six Legged Lamb 2006

Belgian grower Maurice Peeters holds a six-legged lamb a day after its birth March 18, 2006, in Meeuwen-Gruitrode.

Gemini The Two-Headed Cat

Gemini, a kitten from Rhode Island, had an unfortunately short life.

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Butterflies drink turtle tears for their salt fix

In order to get their dose of sodium, butterflies turn to crying turtles. […]