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No. 185, 5th June 2015

1. Australia: Turtle on edge of extinction after sudden attack by mystery disease

SOURCE: – DATE: 23rd May 2015

The Bellinger river snapping turtle (Elseya georgesi), a species previously considered to be under no threat, has been virtually wiped out by a mystery disease that causes them to become lethargic and then develop lesions on the eyes and throughout the body. The disease has 100% mortality rate and has swept through its habitat in New South Wales, Australia with alarmed scientists pinning hopes on a small band of survivors.

Link to this web article online (English)

Bellinger river snapping turtle
© S. Tsoutas

Northern Red-bellied cooter

© MassWildlife

2. The USA: Local students give endangered turtles a head start for survival

SOURCE: – DATE: 31st May 2015

The Northern red-bellied cooter (Pseudemys rubriventris) is a state-and-federally-listed endangered species in America, and for more than three decades wildlife biologists have worked to improve the turtle's odds for survival by giving it a head start.

Students, teachers and wildlife personnel converged from across the state at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters (MassWildlife field headquarters) to weigh, measure, notch and tag 137 turtles to be released starting from Monday (1st of June 2015) in more than a dozen ponds in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, the USA.

The goal for the cooter's recovery is not to spread its geographic range, but rather to establish a secure, viable, self-sustaining population within the historic core of its range within Plymouth County.

Link to this web article online (English)

3. The USA: Fish, turtle die-offs signal a Long Island crisis

SOURCE: – DATE: 1st June 2015

The photos are appalling. Dead bunker fish by the thousands in the Peconic Estuary, their carcasses massing in the waters and piling onto shores. The culprit, experts say, was excessive nitrogen that fuelled algal blooms, which reduced oxygen in the water to the point that the fish could not survive. The die-off came a month after some 100 Diamondback turtles (Malaclemys terrapin) washed ashore in the same general area of the East End, killed by a biotoxin produced by a different nitrogen-related algae. Shellfish that eat the algae poisoned the turtles that ate them.

The twin mass die-offs scream for urgency. This nitrogen crisis is killing our waters. Long Island -- whose waters are the very essence of its identity -- has no time to waste.

ATP NOTE: the article follows the story mentioned on Bulletin No.183

Link to this web article online (English)

fish die off

© R. Daddona

loggerhead turtle

© S. Martin

4. The USA: UGA's sea turtle genetic fingerprinting research project featured in world report

SOURCE: - DATE: 1st June 2015

Sea turtle researchers in the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources are using new technologies to unlock the mysteries of the ancient mariners: genetic fingerprinting.

By creating a database of DNA taken from turtle eggshells, the UGA team is leading research that could be vital to the conservation of the endangered animals.

Since they started this DNA project nearly a decade ago, Warnell researchers have used what they call "CSI for turtles" to identify 7,573 sea turtle mothers in over 34,500 nests. They've honed their genetic tagging technique into a fine art, and in the 2015 "State of the World's Sea Turtles" report, they discuss the benefits of using DNA to track maternal turtle lineage over traditional tagging methods.

Link to this web article online (English)

5. India: GRP cops seize 100 tortoises from New Delhi-Pondicherry Express

SOURCE: – DATE: 2nd June 2015

The Local Crime Branch (LCB) unit of Government Railway Police (GRP) seized 100 live tortoises from 22404 New Delhi-Pondicherry Express from two persons on the 1st of June 2015.

According to sources, the GRP officials received a confidential tip-off that some people are smuggling live tortoise. So the personnel of Local Crime Branch (LCB) unit launched a search operation on the train standing on platform No-2 of Nagpur Railway Station (Nagpur, Maharashtra, India) at 6:20 pm. The cops noticed a strange smell in Coach No S-9 and recovered 100 tortoises kept in the four luggage bags. The police personnel immediately seized the bags and arrested two persons. The GRP has handed over the tortoises to the Forest Department so it could be kept alive. However, some tortoises died during the journey, claimed the police officer.

Link to this web article online (English)

100 tortoises seized in India
Nagpur Today

Tunisian tortoise

6. Scotland: Tortoise smuggling warning issued

SOURCE: – DATE: 3rd June 2015

Holidaymakers are being warned not to smuggle live tortoises into Scotland after one was handed in to an animal rescue centre. The Scottish SPCA is urging tourists not to be tempted by street traders selling the creatures and warned they may be risking its life and will be committing a crime by bringing it home.

It comes after a Tunisian tortoise (Testudo graeca nabeulensis) was handed in to the charity's Glasgow centre about two weeks ago. The reptile was the sole survivor of three that were brought back into the country by someone who had been on holiday in Tunisia.

An undercover inspector from the Scottish SPCA's special investigations unit said: "This species is critically endangered and they have very specific care requirements. However, the people who sell these creatures have no concern whatsoever for their welfare and give tourists incorrect and misleading advice about how to look after them.”

Link to this web article online (English)


7. Vietnam: A 42-kg Green sea turtle found in Quang Ninh province

SOURCE: – DATE: 3rd June 2015

On the 3rd of June 2015, Nguyen Van Sang living in Dong Trieu town, Quang Ninh province found and caught a Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in a lagoon. The species is listed as Endangered (EN) in both IUCN’s Red List and Vietnam’s Red Data Book.

Notified about the case, the People’s Committee of Dong Trieu town assigned local authorities to receive and transfer the turtle to Quang Ninh province’s Forest Protection Department.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

green turtle caught in Quang Ninh, Vietnam


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