Learn the difference between the gopher tortoise and the sea turtle.This is the critical message wildlife specialists are sending to the people living in Florida who have been killing the gopher tortoises because they don’t have the right information.
People should learn to make the difference between the gopher tortoise and the sea turtle.This statement has been made by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and was addressed to the people who didn’t know the difference between these two creatures and have dropped the new born babies tortoise into the ocean.
This was made with good intentions, but the fact that they confused the animals with the ones that live in the ocean lead to the drowning of the babies tortoises.
After several incidents like this kept on happening in March, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has made a clear statement towards the people living in that region, that gopher tortoises are not meant to live in water and if dropped in the ocean they will drown.
The Gopher Tortoise
With the help of a press release, wild life specialists have demanded the community to learn to distinguish between a tortoise and a sea turtle. The tortoises live in land while sea turtles are marine animals whose bodies is created for swimming and living underwater.
Gopher tortoises have received this name after their capacity of digging deep burrows with their strong front legs. The burrows they are building are usually used by many other animal species which make the gopher tortoise an important presence in the ecosystem as they provide home for many other animal species.
Tortoises have legs with toes and claws that help them dig. The population of the gopher tortoise is declining, and the majority of the remaining species is living in Florida. In 2003, the population in of tortoises living in Florida was estimated to be under 800,000 and going down.
The Sea Turtle
Sea turtles are among the oldest animals on Earth. Presently there are seven different species of sea turtles that have been living on our planet for around 110 million, from the dinosaur era. Like their name implies, these are water creatures and they have flippers for swimming. One difference between sea turtles and other turtle species, is that they cannot retreat their body inside their shell.
The biggest and most notable difference between the gopher tortoise and the sea turtle is the size. People have to keep in mind the fact that sea turtles are larger and can reach up to six feet, while gopher tortoises don’t have a length bigger than maximum 11 inches.
The fact that the gopher tortoise has been seen near water as it lives in dunes close to the beaches might have given many the impression that the ocean is the place where these animals should live.
In Florida there are five species of sea turtles and they are all under protection as endangered species as well as the gopher tortoise which is under the protection of the state.
Moreover, the gopher tortoise has been put under management plan, ever since the moment when the animal was classified as endangered in 2007. The reptile population is slowly declining and wildlife experts are thinking of methods to relocate them in proper living environments.
Everybody can help these animals live safely in their habitat. There is no need for unrealistic actions, but little gestures that can help this species survive. For example if you see a gopher tortoise crossing the street, what you could do is to stop the car and help it cross, but don’t deviate it from its trajectory.Place it on the other side of the road in the direction it was heading.