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NC Press: Temporary turtle relocation program

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Sun Jan 18 11:17:17 2004  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

DAILY SOUTHERNER (Tarboro, N Carolina) 13 January 04 Temporary turtle relocation program (Charles Kinnin)
Tarboro: On Thursday, a day prior to more than two inches of snowfall in the area, Edgecombe County Memorial Library was transformed into a marshland --without even touching the thermostat.
The library hosted a program from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences about turtles. Jan Tu, an employee of the science museum, gave a talk to approximately 20 preschool and home-schooled kids in the William Dorsey Pender Memorial Room.
During the hourlong program, Tu explained the anatomies of different types of turtles and how humans can help protect them. Most of the six turtles she brought in can be found in North Carolina, including the official state reptile, the eastern box turtle.
Tu also explained the difference between turtles and other reptiles. While turtles are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperature reflects that of their environment, they breathe air with lungs, like humans.
Tu showed the kids a turtle shell, with a backbone built in. Therefore -- contrary to what is seen on TV, she said -- a turtle can never leave its shell.
Tu also brought in turtle eggs, which are "leathery" in texture. A skull was brought in to show the "bird beak" the reptiles use to chomp food.
The turtles displayed were a box turtle, a yellowbelly slider, a diamondback terrapin, a musk turtle, a spiny soft shell and an alligator snapper, which cannot be found in North Carolina. Each has features used specifically for its habitat, including, for the yellowbelly slider, a flatter shell for swimming.
Each also has features for protection, such as a hinge the box turtle can use to pull its arms, legs, head and tail into its shell if threatened. In the case of a snapper, "For protection, it can snap your finger off," Tu said.
But the biggest threat to turtles is humans, Tu said. With deforestation, turtles are losing their habitat, she said.
Box turtles tend to stay around their home area -- about the size of two football fields -- and thus cannot be relocated, hurting their numbers, Tu said, adding that even relocated turtles would try to find their way home.
Tu advised the kids that if a turtle is seen walking down the road, it should be helped in the direction it is going so it won't be injured by cars. Hands should be washed afterward, she said.
"Anywhere you go, you might find a turtle," Tu said.
Tu's program was made possible by a grant from the science museum, which was awarded to ECML three years ago. The grant allows five programs from the science museum to be held at the library each year.
Temporary turtle relocation program


   

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