Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation
World Turtle Day – 23rd May
World Turtle Day – 23rdMay
World Turtle Day is an annual observance held every May 23rd. It began in 2000 and is sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue. The day was created as a yearly observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats, as well as to encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.
Turtles are an order of reptiles known as Testudines, characterized by a special shell developed mainly from their ribs. There are 360 living and recently extinct species of turtles, including land-dwelling tortoises and freshwater terrapins. They are found on most continents, some islands and, in the case of sea turtles, much of the ocean. They breathe air and do not lay eggs underwater, although many species live in or around water.
The shell of a turtle is unique among vertebrates and serves to protect the animal and provide shelter from the elements. It is primarily made of 50–60 bones and consists of two parts: the domed, dorsal (back) carapace and the flatter, ventral (belly) plastron. They are connected by lateral (side) extensions of the plastron. The carapace is fused with the vertebrae and ribs while the plastron is formed from bones of the shoulder girdle, sternum, and abdominal ribs.
The shell is covered in epidermal (outer skin) scales known as scutes that are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up hair and fingernails.
Due to their heavy shells, turtles are slow movers on land. A desert tortoise moves at only 0.22 – 0.48 km/h. By contrast sea turtles can swim at 30km/h. Tortoises are specialized for terrestrial environments and have column like legs with elephant like feet and short toes, while fresh water turtles have more flexible legs larger toes with webbing giving them thrust in the water. Sea Turtles and the pig nosed turtles are the most specialized for swimming. Their front limbs evolve in to flippers while the shorter kind limbs are shaped more like rudders.
Most turtle and tortise species are opportunistic omnivores; land-dwelling species are more herbivorous and aquatic ones more carnivorous.
More than half of the world’s turtle and tortoise species are now threatened with extinction. Loss of habitat is the biggest threat to turtles and tortoises globally. Other threats include the pet trade, overconsumption for food and medicine, pollution, invasive species, and climate change.
There are many conservation projects by many parties to conserve the critically endangered sea turtles and selected tortoise species. Sri Lankaconducts few successful Turtle Conservation Projects.
– Source: Internet –