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No. 124, 28th March 2014

1. Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam: A rare marine turtle released back to the ocean

DATE: 24th March 2014

On the 24th of March 2014, when Mr. Nguyen Van, a fisherman in Quang Dien district, Thua Thien Hue Province was fishing in a lagoon when he caught marine turtle (Green Sea Turtle – Chelonia mydas) in his fishing net. The turtle weighed around 85kg, 90cm in length and 70cm in width. Chelonia mydas is listed in Vietnam's Red Book and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered. After the Thua Thien Hue's Sub-Department of Aquatic Resource Exploitation and Protection explained to Mr. Van that the species was protected and endangered he agreed to release the animal back to the ocean on the same day.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


2. Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam: Establishing a new Vietnamese pond turtle conservation centre in Quang Ngai province

DATE: 21st March 2014

On the 20th of March, Mr. Nguyen Van Han, Head of Quang Ngai's Forest Protection Department confirmed that his department is now collaborating with the Southern Institute of Ecology (SIE) and Asian Turtle Programme (ATP) to construct a new turtle conservation centre in order to rescue and protect Vietnamese pond turtles (Mauremys annamensis) and protect some of the remaining habitat for the species. He further said that Mauremys annamensis can only be found in the central provinces of Vietnam and will be preserved in this conservation centre. The new turtle conservation centre will cover about 8 hectares, spreading across two districts: Binh Minh and Binh Khuong (Binh Son province). Around 200 Vietnamese pond turtles currently being kept in Cuc Phuong National Park's Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) (Ninh Binh Province) will be transferred to the new centre to be maintained and bred in their natural range, said Mr. Han.

ATP NOTE: Approval for the project still needs to be confirmed and is ongoing, the initial number of animals to be transferred to the centre is still to be decided but we hope to develop a centre within the species natural ranger where conservation breeding and release can be undertaken in the future.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© T.T

3. New Jersey, USA: Largest Cretaceous turtle ever found discovered in New Jersey

DATE: 25th March 2014

The two ends of the front leg bone of a Cretaceous Period turtle species were connected after more than 160 years by researchers at Drexel University and the New Jersey State Museum according to their report in the March 25, 2014, issue of the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. One end of the Atlantochelys mortoni humerus was discovered in 1849 by Louis Agassiz and the companion end was found by amateur palaeontologist Gregory Harpel in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The discovery of an ancient bone that has been exposed to the atmosphere and weather for 70 million to 75 million years is an unusual find. Few ancient bones have withstood the weathering of millions of years. Comparison of the two bone fragments produced an exact fit. The discovery allowed the researchers to estimate the size of Atlantochelys mortoni as being at least 10 times the size of modern loggerhead turtles. This is potentially the largest ancient sea turtle ever discovered. The find forced palaeontologists to revise their concept that ancient bones that have been fossilized into stone cannot withstand weathering for millions of years if exposed to the elements.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Drexel Univeristy

© Jason Poole / Drexel Univeristy

4. Staten Island, New York City, USA: A look at Jalopy, the Staten Island Zoo's original Galapagos tortoise and the new Galapagos tortoises exhibit at the Staten Island Zoo

DATE: 25th March 2014

Not since the iconic Jalopy the giant Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) died in 1983 has this species been represented at the Staten Island Zoo, but because of sponsorship from Con Edison there are now three new tortoises that call the zoo home . From the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador in South America, Jalopy was donated to the Staten Island Zoo in 1937 and lived there 46 years before her death in 1983 from cancer. During her battle with cancer, it became harder for her to move until eventually Jalopy was given a skateboard to provide her with some limited mobility. Today a bronze sculpture of a Galapagos tortoise exists in honour of Jalopy, to the right of the Broadway entrance, just behind a towering old tulip tree, and her shell is on display in the reptile wing of the zoo.

Now Staten Island Zoo is home to a trio of Galapagos tortoises again as part of a new exhibit unveiled on the 25th of March. The "dome-shelled" tortoises are currently seven years old and weigh about 50 pounds (22kg). The exhibit was made possible by a $20,000 grant from Con Edison that also includes funds for an educational Forensic Entomology program and, later in the summer, a tribute to the zoo's original tortoise Jalopy, said the zoo's Executive Director Kenneth Mitchell The zoo's general curator and veterinarian Dr. Marc Valitutto said the tortoises can live up to 150 years and weigh between 500 and 800 pounds (226kg and 362kg). "This is actually one the coolest animals that we brought here in a long time," Dr. Valitutto said. "They are the biggest tortoise in the world, and just like the Staten Island Zoo is known for being the biggest little zoo, we are having the biggest little animals."

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

© Staten Island Advance

© Staten Island Advance - Irving Silverstein

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