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.