‘Baby tortoises can’t swim,’ Florida wildlife officials after beach-goers mistake land-dwelling reptiles for sea turtles and try to ‘rescue’ them by tossing them in the ocean
- Not all turtles can swim, said Florida wildlife officials this week after concerned beachgoers tried to throw baby tortoises in the ocean
- There were at least three reports of people trying to release gopher tortoises in the ocean because they were mistaken for sea turtles
- Tortoises have toes with claws on each toe but sea turtles have flippers with just one or two claws on each fore flipper
Not all turtles can swim, said Florida wildlife officials this week after beachgoers tried to throw baby tortoises in the ocean.
There were at least three reports of people trying to release gopher tortoises in the ocean because they were mistaken for sea turtles.
ABC reports that while people were concerned that the tortoise hatchlings would get eaten by predators, tortoises are unable to swim like the sea turtle.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, all five species of sea turtle and the gopher turtle nest in the sand which is why some people may confuse one with the other.
It’s important to know that you should never attempt to relocate gopher tortoise adults, juveniles or hatchlings if you happen to see one near a beach,’ the commission said in statement on Friday.
The commission also said that one can tell the difference between a sea turtle and a tortoise by looking at the animal’s feet.
‘To distinguish gopher tortoises from sea turtles, simply inspect their limbs from a distance: Gopher tortoises have toes, with claws on each toe. Sea turtles have flippers with only one or two claws present on each fore flipper, ‘said the statement.
ABC reports that gopher tortoises are protected by Florida law and sea turtles are on Florida’s endangered species or threatened survival list.
Whether people see a tortoise or sea turtle, they should not interfere with the animal’s natural behavior unless they are a wildlife professional, said the commission.
Sea turtles: Sea turtles are able to swim, but Florida Wildlife officials warn that people should not throw baby turtles in the ocean because they may be of a species that cannot swim