People are drowning tortoises after confusing them with sea turtles
A new bulletin from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding tourists and Floridians that « all turtles are not equal. »
The commission received three reports in March from « helpful » samaritans that accidentally mistook a gopher tortoise for a sea turtle, releasing them into the ocean where they are less likely to end up as dinner for the many dangers that lurk on the beaches. Unfortunately, gopher tortoises can’t swim.
The land-dwelling tortoises often nest in beach dunes that are adjacent to the beaches where sea turtles nest, which can lead to the confusion.
The two shelled creatures can be distinguished by their limbs. Gopher tortoises have toes with a claw on each toe, and sea turtles have flippers, for swimming.