Thanks to my friend over at Serenity Spell—a wonderful nature blog with gorgeous photos and wildlife information—I was reminded this morning that it’s World Turtle Day today.
First started by American Tortoise Rescue, Turtle Day was started to raise awareness on turtle ecology and conservation.
To celebrate Turtle Day, here’s a watercolor of a gopher tortoise I did a while ago for The Conservation Fund. It was part of a large interpretive sign project in Southern Florida. The Conservation Fund was designing a development with ecologically sensitive aspects, including setting aside 180 acres for gopher tortoise habitat.
I learned a lot about these fascinating creatures while working on the project, and I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of one on a site visit.
Just by doing what comes naturally—digging burrows—gopher tortoises provide habitat for nearly 80 other species! Their burrowing activity also improves the soil, recycles nutrients and disperses seeds.
Gopher tortoises are one of the oldest living animals on earth—their ancestors date from 55 million years ago. Their natural lifespan can be as long as 50 or 60 years.
Unfortunately, gopher tortoise habitat is rapidly decreasing due to development and agriculture. Many of them die each year as roadkill.
Here’s a thumbnail of one of the interpretive signs I did for the project.
Read an article about World Turtle Day on the Huffington Post.
Learn about gopher tortoises.
That’s a wonderful sketch/image of the turtle!
This is FANTASTIC!
Of course I adore these guys, and am appalled that Florida arrived so *incredibly* late in their conservation. Until recently, developers could pour concrete over areas with so many burrows. It’s amazing. Neighboring states labeled the species endangered, while Florida… Nope.
Do you know where they used this signage ultimately in SFla? It’s amazing! I ask because with all my hiking, I want to keep my eyes peeled! 🙂
It was in Jupiter, near West Palm Beach. The planned community is called Abacoa. My project was installed quite a long time ago (1999 – 2000)- I’m not sure if it is still there now. The signs were used along the Greenway, which was reserved for storm water retention as well as wildlife habitat.
Here’s more info on the nature aspect of Abacoa: