Every day, hundreds of wild freshwater turtles are snatched from Florida’s lakes and rivers, and shipped to Asia where they are butchered for food and folk remedies.
It’s all perfectly legal, thanks to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — or, if you will, the Wildlife Conversation Commission, since its members obviously would rather chat than make actual decisions.
Biologists and environmental groups have been begging the FWCC to ban the exportation of Florida’s softshell turtles, but the commission remains deep in pondering. Last March, 34 of the nation’s foremost scientists wrote to urge state officials to outlaw the turtle harvest.
”For the same reason that it is illegal to kill female sea turtles on a nesting beach, it is a very bad idea to take adult turtles in large numbers from any ecosystem,” the scientists said. “Turtles are extremely slow to reproduce and have very low success rates of nests and hatchlings.”
With their snake-like necks and swizzle-stick noses, softshells aren’t the cutest critters in the pond. But they play a big role in the freshwater food chain, and their presence is a sign of healthy biodiversity.
In an interview with The St. Petersburg Times, Matt Aresco, a biologist and turtle expert, warned: “Asian countries are causing the extinction, the near extinction or the endangerment of every species of turtle over there, so now they’re turning to the United States to supply their insatiable demand. . .”
Florida has become a prime hunting ground because turtles are so plentiful, and the laws protecting them are such a sham. Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee all have tougher restrictions on turtle killing than Florida has.
A GREEN sea turtle believed to be about 100 years old is being nursed back to health after it was hit by a boat on the NSW north coast.
The turtle is in the care of the Ballina-based Australian Seabird Rescue Centre which rescued the 80kg seafarer from Sandon River, near Yamba, last Sunday.
"We were called by some people who were fishing at Sandon River about 9pm on Saturday," said Rochelle Ferris, the general manager of ASR.
"They had seen the turtle stranded on a mud flat and were concerned that it could be in trouble with the incoming tide.
"We gave them some advice on how to get it out of the water and look after it and then came down Sunday morning to pick it up."
A quick examination found the turtle, nicknamed Sheldon, had a huge gash about 35cm long and 10cm wide across his shell which is believed to have been caused by a boat.