World Turtle Day

Event date: 
2017-05-23 (All day)

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South Africa's  marks World Turtle Day
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The purpose of the observance of the World Turtle Day is to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive. Turtle Day is celebrated worldwide in a variety of ways, from dressing up as turtles to saving turtles caught on highways, to research activities.

Marine turtles lay large numbers of eggs in holes that they excavate with their hand flippers on dry, sandy beaches. The clutch is then covered and left to incubate with no parental care. The eggs take between 70 - 120 days to hatch. As with other reptiles, a temperature can determine whether an egg develops into a male or a female: male hatchlings are associated with lower temperatures and females with higher temperatures. When the turtles hatch, they dig to the surface and head immediately towards the sea. They spend the rest of their lives in the Open Ocean or shallow coastal waters, except when they return to nest. As such they are highly migratory, often moving considerable distances between nesting and feeding areas. Turtles are long-lived and can take many years to reach breeding age (for example, loggerhead females first reproduce between 17 and 33 years of age), and in many cases nest every few years rather than annually.

South Africa's commemoration



World Turtle Day

Today, the Department of Environmental Affairs joins the world in commemorating World Turtle Day. There are seven (7) species of marine turtles in the world, of which five (5) have been recorded in South Africa. These are the Leatherback, Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill and the rarely seen Olive Ridley turtles. Two of these species, namely, the Leatherback and the Loggerhead turtles nests in South Africa, in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. These nesting beaches are of critical importance to turtles because of their genetic distinction from other rookeries of the same species in the Western Indian Ocean. iSimangaliso, despite being a World Heritage Site, has also been chosen to be one of the sites of importance for sea turtle conservation under the Indian Ocean South East Asia Turtle Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), of which South Africa is a member state.

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