Turtles are a type of reptile that exists in many environments throughout the world and have found their way into literature, poetry, and parable throughout the world’s history. World Turtle Day celebrates these noble reptiles and their place in the world and encourages people to take action to help protect both the common pet turtle and the ever endangered sea turtle.
History of World Turtle Day
Well, the first thing to know is that Turtles and Tortoises are not the same thing, though this day is dedicated to celebrating and protecting both. First created in 1990 by American Tortoise Rescue, World Turtle day recognizes that some species of our hard (and soft!) shelled friends are suffering and almost on the edge of extinction due to environmental hazards, issues with hunting and harvesting of their eggs.
American Tortoise Rescue was created by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, a married pair of animal activists who had a particular passion for tortoises. We all have to have something that drives us in this life, and for these two it was bonding over animal right’s activist work. Don’t think these two are just closet hippies with an overwhelming adoration for all things shelled and scaly.
Susan is deeply involved with television arts & sciences and the public relations society of America while being a partner in Tellem Grody Public Relations Incorporated. They organize charity collections and works around the world to help protect these amazing critters, and created World Turtle Day to get everyone involved and spread awareness of the shrinking habitat and declining numbers of these sensitive creatures.
So what is the difference between turtles and tortoises? Although they are both reptiles, the main difference between the two is that turtles live in the water at least some of the time, while tortoises live on the land. Because they live in the water, turtles have streamlined and mostly flat shells, while tortoises often have larger and more domed ones.
Our tortoise friends can also live longer than their reptilian cousins. Tortoises can live over 300 years, although their average lifespan can go up to around 150 years. Turtles live up until the age of 40, although one record-breaking turtle almost lived to the age of 90!