Don’t Squish the Turtles!

Here in Michigan, turtles can be seen crossing the roads in the spring and summer. These turtles are on a mission: to find a mate, to find nesting grounds, to find a place to hibernate. Turtles are amazing and ancient creatures. Sixteen states have at least one turtle species as a state symbol, and Florida has two! This obviously means we should be saving turtles, not squishing them.

So, how do you save a turtle? To put it simply, very carefully. It’s important that if you see a turtle  on the road that you take precautions for your own safety. Don’t put yourself in danger to rescue a turtle! This means pulling into a driveway or pulling completely off of the road to rescue the turtle. 

When moving a turtle off the road, be sure to move it in the direction it was headed. It might be tempting to turn the turtle around and take it to the closer side of the road, but that risks the turtle trying to cross the road again. Also, don’t try to relocate it. Turtles have a home range and might try to return home if you relocate them. 

When picking up the turtle to move it, grab it firmly on either side of the shell behind the front legs. Don’t pick it up too high off the ground just in case it falls. Even small turtles can be surprisingly strong when they want to escape and they can have very long, sharp nails. Don’t pick up turtles by their tails or legs because this could hurt them. 

Florida Redbelly Turtle (by Dr. Tibor Duliskovich)

Snapping turtles are a little more complicated. They have long tails, sharp claws and a mean bite. Don’t pick them up by their tails! If you have a something like a snow-shovel, use it to gently lift the turtle and scoot it off the road. 

When I drive anywhere I make sure that my passenger understands the drill: if there is a turtle in the road, they are expected to help it cross the road. Please do your part to save the turtles on the road and encourage others to do the same!

 

Citizen Science

It’s easy to see scientists as outsiders doing things that we could never hope to accomplish. That need not be the case. Many fields rely on non-scientists in the community to help gather data or solve problems. Here are a few examples.

The Audubon Society has used the results of the annual Christmas Bird Count for conservation efforts for over one hundred years.

Creek Watch is an iPhone app that lets you monitor the health of your watershed.

The mPING Project (Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground) also has an app and collects weather data to compare to radar predictions.

Citizen Sort uses games to allow you to help scientists identify and classify moths, sharks or rays.

Humans are better at puzzles and recognizing patterns than computers, so games like Foldit, Fraxinus, and Phylo are especially useful.

Scientific American has a page devoted to curating Citizen Science opportunities around the country and around the world, and you can even search by research type.

Alex Dainis of Bite Sci-zed has a great video about crowdsourced science.