From the New York Times comes an excellent article on the fascinating turtle, which has the capacity to live for hundreds of years — if humans don’t drive it into extinction first.
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to volunteer with the Animal Rehabiliation Keep in Port Aransas, TX, where I got to see tiny baby Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles (the single cutest creature on the planet) grow into massive animals and be released back to the sea. But I also saw too many injured sea turtles who had been hit by boats, caught in fishing line or sickened by pollution. One permanent resident, Barnacle Bill, had only two flippers left, so he crawled along the bottom of his tank, wearing a path in the concrete floor. The water level had to be kept low so he wouldn’t have to exert himself to breathe.
Anyway, an excerpt from the article:
People may despise cats or fear dogs, but practically everybody has a soft spot for turtles. “Turtles are by far the most popular reptile,” said Peter C. H. Pritchard, director of the Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo, Fla. “Unlike snakes, which may threaten you and which move like a flash, turtles are benign and slow, and you can’t dislike or distrust the clumsy.”
(Yet) turtle habitats are fast disappearing, or are being fragmented and transected by roads on which millions of turtles are crushed each year.