....... Divertimento: Turtle Day

Monday, 23 May 2011

Turtle Day

Did you know that today, 23rd May 2011 is World Turtle Day? Curious?

World Turtle Day is sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue “to bring attention to and increase knowledge of and respect for tortoises and turtles and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive”.

So, in honor of this special day, here are two photographs of my favorite terrapins, the lucky residents of Hong Kong Park. Terrapin Hong Kong Park
Terrapins in Hong Kong Park
This has led me to ponder: turtle, tortoise and terrapin – what’s the difference?

For a start, they all belong to a group of reptiles called chelonians. In general, turtles live in or near water and tortoises live primarily on arid land. Terrapins on the other hand fall somewhere between turtles and tortoises because they either live in swampy areas or begin life underwater and eventually move to dry land. Turtles have flatter backs than tortoises and have webbed or fin-like feet adapted for swimming. Tortoises’ shells are rounded domes so that they can withdraw their limbs and head for protection.

There are 9 species of chelonians found in Hong Kong. The Green Turtle is the only known species of sea turtles breeding locally. The nesting site of Green Turtles at Sham Wan beach on Lamma Island was designated a restricted area in 1999 to protect the species during the breeding season. This site is very important to the survival of this highly endangered species – in fact, it is one of the few remaining nesting sites in Southern China. The number of female Green Turtles nesting on Shan Wan beach is very small and there would not be nesting every year.

The restricted period is from 1 June to 31 October. Each year before the onset of the breeding season, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department organizes contractors and volunteers to clear the vegetation and remove garbage from the beach. So, if you feel inclined to do your bit for conservation, why not volunteer to help at Sham Wan beach?

Well in Hong Kong, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a greeting card for this day. If you would like to send a greeting to your friends and loved ones, why not send a E Card instead? It’s environmentally friendly.

Have a Happy Turtle Day!

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