Two dozen orphaned Wood Turtles were released back into the wild after being saved and cared for by marine biologists and herpetologists.
For 10 months the turtles were cared for at the SEA LIFE aquarium. Wood Turtles are a threatened species in Michigan. They were released back into the wild on June 15.
The release was a project between SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium and Herpetological Resource Management LLC. This group of turtles is the third group that SEA LIFE has raised and released.
“Wood Turtles like to travel to dig nests and bury their eggs” said Lauren Marcon, lead marine biologist at SEA LIFE Michigan. “Due to habitat loss, the females will cross busy roads, looking for suitable nesting grounds. In many cases, they don’t make it and don’t have a chance to lay their eggs.”
Herpetological Resources Management LLC locates, takes and hatches the orphaned Wood Turtle eggs and then gives the baby turtles to the aquarium to raise.
“We take care of the turtle hatchlings for 8-12 months, or until they’re big enough to dramatically increase their chances at survival in the wild,” Marcon said. “Then, once they’ve grown, we work with the folks at Herpetological Resource Management to find a suitable local habitat and release the turtles back into the wild.”
Wood Turtles have faced a population decline due to habitat loss and pollution. They are now listed as a species of concern in Michigan.
“Many turtles don’t reach reproductive age until they are ten to fifteen years old, so it is important that the genetics of each breeding female move on into the next generation,” said Asher Berg, curator at SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium.
Read: More nature stories