Saturday 27 February 2016

Tortoise - Worldwide Celebration

We all love our Galapagos Tortoises.  I've already told you a lot about Lonesome George, the most famous tortoise ever, not only in Galapagos, but around the world.  And, if you've been following the Galapagos Eco-Lodge blog, you know that in Galapagos preservation of these marvelous and unique reptiles is a huge priority of the Charles Darwin Foundation.

But, it turns out that our Galapagos tortoises are not the only celebrated tortoises - not at all.  In fact, May 23, 2014 was actually the 14th celebration of international "World Turtle Day."  The day was dedicated to educating people about tortoises, turtles and worldwide conversation and preservation efforts.

The day is sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue, a non-profit organization with the mission to protect all species of tortoise and turtle. ATR has placed about 3000 tortoises in caring homes.

Before sharing some fabulous reptile photos with you, I want to take just a moment to tell you the major distinctions between tortoises and turtles.  A tortoise lives on the land, eats bushes, vegetation, grass, and cacti. Their feet have adapted for land mobility; thus they have heavily padded feet, instead of webs. Turtles, in contrast, live most of their life in the water, and have webbed feet for swimming. They stay in the water, like our green sea turtles, except when they come to shore to lay eggs or for a brief bask in the sun.

Some interesting facts:

Turtles can be tiny like this little Bog Turtle (photo courtesy of U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and

Or they can be huge like this Leatherback, which can grow to be 2000 pounds. (photo courtesy of U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and

The future existence of both the Bog and Leatherback Turtles is threatened.

Other species of tortoise and turtle celebrated on World Turtle Day and were featured by Mother Nature Network.  Take a look at all of these photos - courtesy of Mother Nature Network with thanks to the named photographer and photography source:

African helmeted turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa)
Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH /Shutterstock

Mata mata turtle (Chelus fimbriatus)
Photo: J. Patrick Fischer/Wikipedia

Mata Mata Turtle Close Up
Photo: Stan Shebs/Wikipedia

Red-bellied short-necked turtle (Emydura subglobosa)
Photo: Bong Grit/Flickr

Spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera)
Photo: USFWSNortheast/Flickr

Spiny Softshell Closeup
Photo: Tim/Flickr

Roti Island snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi)
Photo: fivespots/Shutterstock

Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata)
Photo: Rob Hainer /Shutterstock

Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Photo: IrinaK/Shutterstock

Cantor's giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii)
Photo: Dementia/Wikipedia

African spurred tortoise (Geochelone sulcata)
Photo: Eric Isselee /Shutterstock

Indian flapshell turtle (Lissemys punctata)
Photo: L. Shyamal/Wikipedia

Alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
Photo: Norbert Nagel/Wikipedia

Alligator Snapping Turtle
Photo: Ryan M. Bolton /Shutterstock

Yellow blotched map turtle (Graptemys flavimaculata)
Photo: fivespots/Shutterstock

Galapagos Tortoise Sleeping
Photo: BlueOrange Studio /Shutterstock

Galapagos giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra)
Photo: Benjamint /Shutterstock
Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Photo: Rich Carey/Shutterstock
Leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)
Photo: Ecoprint/Shutterstock

Malayan softshell turtle (Dogania subplana)
Photo: Wibowo Djatmiko/Wikipedia

Malayan Softshell Turtle Closeup
Photo: Ryan M. Bolton /Shutterstock

Pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta)
Photo: reptiles4all /Shutterstock
Ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora)
Photo: Ryan M. Bolton /Shutterstock

Anxious to learn more about these ancient reptiles? In the coming weeks I'll be posting about Galapagos tortoises on our different islands.  Have questions? Please send a comment.

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