Chinese zodiac enthusiasts may tell you that 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit; however, PARC, or Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, will proudly say that 2011 is the Year of the Turtle.
PARC is an organization dedicated to the welfare and protection of amphibians, reptiles and their habitats worldwide. Since 1999 The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has sustained PARC membership and, therefore, is also taking part in the Year of the Turtle celebration. June 26 is designated as “Turtle Day,” and its events will bring this conservation campaign to a new height. All will transpire at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area at 341 Milford Street in Burlington, Connecticut, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Free admission includes informative talks, stories and crafts for children, and the opportunity to see live turtle specimens. The scheduled talks will further educate the public about Connecticut’s native turtles, the Eastern Box Turtle (a species of “special concern” status in Connecticut), and Sea Turtles, featuring a presentation by Janelle Schuh, the coordinator of the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration’s Stranding Department.
The Children’s Museum on 950 Trout Brook Drive in West Hartford is embracing the Year of the Turtle all year by featuring “Turtle Talks” from 9 a.m. to noon every Wednesday. The Museum’s Turtle Conservation Project houses twenty-seven rescued turtles that help educate visitors about Connecticut’s native turtles and conservation efforts.
How are turtles significant to Connecticut ecosystems? Twelve turtle species, including four aquatic species, are attributed to the Connecticut wildlife population. However, about 60% of these species are considered endangered, threatened or worthy of special concern. The Bog Turtle, the Leatherback Sea Turtle, and the Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle are classified as endangered species. All turtles are now under the constant threats of climate change, human-induced habitat loss, agricultural and marine equipment, lack of genetic consistency, and diseases.
To learn more about the Year of the Turtle, take part in the DEP’s Turtle Day in Burlington, and read about PARC’s turtle conservation efforts here. With expanded knowledge about how to protect these creatures, we can, in fact, learn from turtles. As Bill Copeland, the renowned Australian athlete, once said, “Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.”