By Stacey Venzel
Turtles lived on this earth long before us, so they are very good at adapting and healing. Sometimes, they could use a little shove in the right direction to get them on their way to recovery and survival.
You can help turtles by being aware of them in your environment when you are driving, boating, fishing and swimming. We can help turtles on an individual scale but also on a global scale by educating or intervening when necessary.
One of the most successful ways to help a species survive is to teach others. Educating people, especially children, about the importance of turtles on the planet can go a long way in changing how individuals view their role in the environment. This can be as easy as getting a group of friends together to visit the local aquarium, watching a rehabilitated turtle get released back into the wild or advising snorkelers to keep a respectable distance from swimming turtles.
Protecting turtles by supporting wildlife laws and actively enforcing them goes a long way in helping the species survive. For example, you can encourage people to pay attention to sea turtle nesting signs or to turn off beach lighting so that sea turtles do not mistake it for the moon. You can also promote eco-conscious laws against littering, pollution and highway construction. Support for the enactment of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDS)—commercial shrimp trawling nets with an escape hatch for incidentally captured sea turtles—has decreased the number of sea turtle bycatch in U.S. waters by 97 percent.
CALL WILDLIFE RESCUE
Luckily, wildlife rescue centers are set up throughout the world to help sick and injured turtles get back to full strength. If you see a floating sea turtle or a tortoise that has been hit by a car you can call your nearest wildlife clinic or veterinarian for instructions on how to get the animal the care it needs to get healthy again. Even some serious carapace spinal injuries can be fixed with a set of screws and wires.
Stephen Divers, Doug Mader, Current Therapy in Reptile Medicine & Surgery, (St. Louis, Elsevier Saunders, 2014), 205, 209-211.
Karen Eckert, David Gulko, Sea Turtles: An Ecological Guide (Honolulu, Mutual Publishing, 2004), 90, 92, 95-96, 100-101, 104, 108-109, 111-112.
Whit Gibbons, Judy Greene, Turtle: The Animal Answer Guide (Baltimore, The John Hopkins University Press, 2009), 107-108.