People are drowning baby tortoises because they think they're turtles

Wednesday 08 April 2015 11:20

Humans can be the absolute worst sometimes, even when they're trying to be nice.

This week authorities in Florida have been forced to issue reminders that tortoises and turtles aren't the same thing, after receiving reports of people trying to 'release' tortoise hatchlings into the ocean after mistaking them for sea turtles.

While carried out with the best of intentions, to protect the hatchlings from predators on the beach, the problem is that gopher tortoises can't actually swim, and will likely drown.

Gopher tortoises, protected under state law, nest in beach dunes, which is behind the confusion.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which issued this notice, said tortoises have toes with a claw on each toe, while sea turtles have flippers, for um swimming.

So, for clarity.

This is a gopher tortoise hatchling:

And this is a baby sea turtle:

More: [Six European animal species enjoying a resurgence]2

More: [This is the best animal welfare video we've seen in a long time]3