“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS” is the sequel to the 2014 hit film “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.” The film is based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman and is directed by David Green (“EARTH TO ECHO”). Michael Bay (the “TRANSFORMERS franchise) returns to produce alongside his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (“ TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES”), with Galen Walker and Scott Mednick (“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES”) also producing.
Also returning for the sequel is Megan Fox (“TRANSFORMERS”) as April O’Neil, Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) as Vernon Fenwick and the Turtles: Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, Pete Ploszek at Leonardo, and Jeremy Howard as Donatello. Rounding out the cast is Stephen Amell (“Arrow,”) as Casey Jones, Tyler Perry ("GONE GIRL", the "MADEA" franchise) as Baxter Stockman, Academy Award nominated actress Laura Linney (“The Big C”, “LOVE ACTUALLY”) as Chief Rebecca Vincent, Brian Tee (“JURASSIC WORLD”) as Shredder, WWE World Heavy Weight Champion Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly as Rocksteady and Gary Anthony Williams (“THE INTERNSHIP”) as Bebop.
Malibu, CA January 18, 2016 American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is celebrating its 16th annual World Turtle Day® on May 23rd. The day was created by ATR as an observance to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Since 1990, Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, the founders of ATR, have rescued and rehomed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles to caring homes. ATR also assists law enforcement when undersized or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.
We launched World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge for the worlds oldest creatures, said Tellem. These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade, says Tellem. We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild thanks to the pet trade, so the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world. (See slide show here.)
Tellem added, We are thrilled to learn that organizations and individuals throughout the world now are observing World Turtle Day, including those in Pakistan, Borneo, India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.
Tellem notes that biologists and other experts predict the disappearance of turtles and tortoises within the next 50 years. She recommends that adults and children do a few small things that can help save turtles and tortoises for future generations:
- Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
- Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
- If a tortoise is crossing a busy highway, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
- Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to endangered sea turtle deaths.
- Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
- Report the use of tiny turtles as prizes at carnivals and other events. Its illegal.
- Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches. It is illegal to buy and sell them throughout the U.S.
Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world. Our first priority here in the U.S. is to ask pet stores and reptile shows to stop the sale of hatchling tortoises and turtles without proper information for the buyer, says Thompson. For example, many people buy sulcata tortoises as an impulse buy because they are so adorable when they are tiny. The breeders and pet stores frequently do not tell the buyers that this tortoise can grow to 100 pounds or more and needs constant heat throughout the year since they do not hibernate.
He added, We also need to educate people and schools about the real risk of contracting salmonella from water turtles. Wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring turtles into schools or homes where children are under the age of 12.
THE Galápagos Islands, 1,000 kilometres off the coast of South America, are probably most famous as the place that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. They are home to an extraordinary array of wildlife, including giant Galápagos tortoises, the world’s largest land-living cold-blooded animals.
The tortoises once thrived in the archipelago. There were originally 15 species that evolved as the islands formed volcanically. However, since the arrival of people four species have become extinct.
A few weeks ago we returned from an expedition to the islands in search of two of these extinct species of tortoises. It may sound like a fool’s errand, but our expedition was a success.
Here’s how we did it.
Tortoises under threat
The Galápagos Islands were colonised in the late 1800s. A combination of poaching by whalers and pirates, and introduced pests competing for food and eating eggs and hatchlings, led to tortoises being exterminated on some islands, and dramatically reduced on others.Flickr/putneymark, CC BY-SA
Darwin wrote about the harvesting of the species of tortoise found only on Floreana Island (Chelonoidis elephantopus), which was exterminated within 15 years of his visit to the Galápagos in 1835.
The tortoise found only on Pinta Island (Chelonoidis abingdoni) went formally extinct in 2012, when its last representative, a male held in captivity and nicknamed Lonesome George, died. He was a major conservation icon and at one point considered by Guinness World Records as the world’s rarest living creature.
The Gal&amp;aacute;pagos Islands, showing locations mentioned in this story.
Finding extinct tortoises
Ten years ago our genetic research program made a very surprising discovery. Some tortoises on Volcano Wolf, on Isabela Island, didn’t match others normally found on the volcano (Chelonoidis becki). Instead, their DNA matched that of the extinct species from Floreana and Pinta.Luciano Beheregaray
These exciting discoveries led to an expedition on Volcano Wolf in 2008, where we tagged and sampled over 1,600 tortoises. DNA analyses revealed an astonishingly large number of tortoises with mixed genetic ancestry in this sample: 89 with DNA from Floreana and 17 with DNA from Pinta.
How was this possible?
It is likely that people have been moving tortoises around the islands. Old logbooks from the whaling industry indicate that, in order to lighten the burden of their ships, whalers and pirates dropped large numbers of tortoises in Banks Bay, near Volcano Wolf.
These animals were collected from lower altitudes islands (Floreana and Pinta) during centuries of exploitation by whalers and pirates, who made the archipelago a regular stop-off for their crews to stock up on these handy living larders.
Many of these tortoises made it to shore and eventually mated with the native Volcano Wolf species, producing hybrids that still maintain the distinctive saddleback shell found in the species from Floreana and Pinta. These hybrids include animals whose parents represent purebred individuals of the two extinct species.
An arduous expedition
Our recent expedition was aimed at finding the animals with a high proportion of ancestors from Floreana or Pinta.
It was ambitious, logistically complex, and very strenuous.
Our team of park rangers, scientists, and veterinarians from 10 countries were divided in nine groups of three to four people each. The daily mission included patrolling large areas of unstable razor-sharp lava fields and of spiny thick vegetation across Volcano Wolf, the tallest of the Galápagos. Added to this ordeal were the frequent encounters with wasps, the equatorial heat, and an El Niño induced six-day period of non-stop rain.
When one of the target tortoises was found, we would contact our mother ship by radio and clear the vegetation of the volcano slopes to make room for the cargo net of our expedition’s helicopter. The precious tortoise would then be moved into the net and airlifted to the ship, which was anchored in Banks Bay.
Our teams discovered more than 1,300 tortoises, including nearly 200 that potentially have mixed ancestry from Floreana or Pinta. We airlifted 32 of them to the ship and then to the captive breeding facility of the Galápagos National Park on the island of Santa Cruz.Elizabeth Hunter
Included in the 32 were four females with Floreana genes and one male and one female from Pinta that were tagged and analysed in 2008.
Reintroducing ‘extinct’ tortoises
The DNA of these tortoises will be analysed to inform the best breeding strategy. We want to restore as much as possible the genes originally found on Floreana and Pinta.
The captive-born offspring of the two extinct species are expected to be released in their native islands within the next five to ten years.Joe Flanagan
Reintroduction of these tortoises to the islands where they evolved, together with large-scale habitat restoration efforts, is essential for the restoration of the island ecosystems. These long-lived large herbivores act as “ecosystem engineers”, altering the habitat they live in to the benefit of other species.
Wouldn’t low genetic diversity hinder the long-term persistence of reintroduced populations?
This is a logical concern for reintroduction programs that rely on a small number of captive breeders. However, giant Galápagos tortoises can bounce back from major demographic crashes and respond well to reintroduction programs.
For instance, the Volcano Alcedo tortoise population, arguably the largest in the Galápagos, is derived from a single female lineage thought to have survived a catastrophic volcano eruption in pre-historical times.
The reintroduction of over 1,500 captive-born offspring of the species once found on Española Island is another success story. The repatriated Española population, all derived from 15 captive breeders, now seems well-established.
Bringing back the Floreana and Pinta species from extinction, something inconceivable not long ago, is now a possibility. Its appeal is further increased by the fact that our expedition found that many more tortoises with genes from Floreana and Pinta still wander on the slopes of the Volcano Wolf. Adding them to breeding programs will boost the genetic diversity in the released individuals and calls for a new expedition soon to come.
We anticipate arduous but rewarding times ahead for giant tortoise conservation biologists.
Luciano Beheregaray, Professor in Biodiversity Genetics and ARC Future Fellow, Flinders University and Adalgisa 'Gisella' Caccone, Senior Research Scientist and Lecturer, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
Chelonian Conservation and Biology – Four decades of research on Hawaiian green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are consolidated in this comprehensive review article, offering new and updated demographic information. The data collected show how the green turtle has rebounded from near extinction in the 1970s to a population of about 4,000 breeding females today.
The scope of research conducted during these years is detailed in the journal Chelonian Conservation and Biology. The Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began studying the green turtle in 1973 by monitoring and tagging nesting turtles. In 1982, a marine turtle research program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) started studying sea turtle strandings and necropsying dead turtles. A companion program launched in 1990 sought to rescue, rehabilitate, and conduct clinical research on stranded turtles.
Early research showed that unregulated commercial hunting of Hawaiian green turtles, primarily for the restaurant trade, was unsustainable. Preliminary data from that period convinced the state of Hawaii to legally ban all commercial taking of turtles. This was followed by adding the green turtle to the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
These green turtles primarily inhabit the northwestern Hawaiian Islands that extend from Nihoa to Kure. As remnants of extinct volcanoes, these islands are geologically older than the southeastern Hawaiian Islands, where the eight large islands are home to most of Hawaii’s human population and still-active volcanoes.
Seven long-term data sets and associated sample arrays now exist and are catalogued at NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu, HI. Samples were collected annually over periods of 24 to 41 years. The seven data streams include nesting female monitoring and tagging; ocean capture/basking turtle tagging; strandings; necropsies, including pelagic turtles by catch; rehabilitation and release; euthanasia; and satellite tracking.
“I am extremely encouraged and confident that the resiliency and durability of the Hawaiian green turtle population can overcome any reasonable challenges it may face, so long as human take is sustainable,” said George H. Balazs, a researcher with NOAA and lead author of the review.
The research on green turtles in the Hawaiian Islands offers a model for understanding recovering sea turtle populations. Conservation and management practices in Hawaii founded on this research serve as a learning tool for other Pacific islands trying to sustain important sea turtle resources.
Full text of the article, “A Review of the Demographic Features of Hawaiian Green Turtles (Cheloniamydas),” Chelonian Conservation and Biology, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2015, is now available online.
About Chelonian Conservation and Biology
Chelonian Conservation and Biology is a scientific international journal of turtle and tortoise research. Its objective is to share any aspects of research on turtles and tortoises. Of special interest are articles dealing with conservation biology, systematic relationships, chelonian diversity, geographic distribution, natural history, ecology, reproduction, morphology and natural variation, population status, husbandry, community conservation initiatives, and human exploitation or conservation management issues. For more information about this journal, see http://www.chelonian.org/ccb/.
Chelonian Conservation and Biology – Global biodiversity is becoming more threatened as the human population continues to grow and use the world’s resources. Turtles have the misfortune of being on the leading edge of biodiversity decline and serve as an indicator of ecosystem degradation.
Researchers have identified 16 turtle “hotspots” around the world. These regions host the many native species of tortoises and freshwater turtles. By focusing on such areas, conservationists can target preservation efforts where the greatest effects can be achieved.
Scientists from the Chelonian Research Foundation, Conservation International, and State University of New York at Stony Brook recently published an article in the journal Chelonian Conservation and Biology that names three types of hotspots—biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas, and turtle priority areas. Taxon richness and endemism values are offered for the 16 identified hotspots, which host 262 species, or 83 percent of all turtle species.
To help set conservation priorities, actions such as the creation of the international Red List of Threatened Species have been taken. Just over half of all turtle species have been identified as threatened with extinction according to the Red List criteria—one of the highest percentages of any major vertebrate group.
Another approach is the identification of turtle conservation priority areas such as biodiversity hotspots, megadiversity countries, and ecoregions. Concentrating conservation activity in areas with high species richness, high endemism and irreplaceability, along with high percentages of threatened species and high levels of threats such as habitat degradation and loss can lead to the greatest outcome for the conservation effort.
This study of turtle hotspots finds 21 countries that harbor 15 or more species of nonmarine turtles. Two sites of exceptional turtle richness are the Mobile Bay, Alabama, area and the Ganges-Brahmaputra confluence in Asia where at least 18 turtle species coexist. The richest biodiversity wilderness areas for turtles are the deserts of North America and the Amazonia region.
The original habitat within the 16 hotspots that contain most of the world’s turtle species amounts to less than 7 percent of the Earth’s land surface. While every turtle taxon, every region, and every area is unique in some way and deserves conservation efforts, targeting efforts on those places with the highest diversity and endemism, as identified in this study, can bring about the greatest results.
Full text of the article, “Turtle Hotspots: An Analysis of the Occurrence of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in Biodiversity Hotspots, High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas, and Turtle Priority Areas,” Chelonian Conservation and Biology, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2015, is now available.
About Chelonian Conservation and Biology
Chelonian Conservation and Biology is a scientific international journal of turtle and tortoise research. Its objective is to share any aspects of research on turtles and tortoises. Of special interest are articles dealing with conservation biology, systematic relationships, chelonian diversity, geographic distribution, natural history, ecology, reproduction, morphology and natural variation, population status, husbandry, community conservation initiatives, and human exploitation or conservation management issues. For more information, please visit http://www.chelonian.org/ccb/.
@TortoiseRescue Asks #DidYouKnow World Turtle Day is May 23rd
Malibu, CA March 5, 2012 American Tortoise Rescue (http://www.tortoise.com),
a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species
of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring its 12th annual World Turtle Day on May
23rd. Featured in Chases Book of Annual Events, the day was created as an
annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and
their disappearing habitats around the world. Susan Tellem and Marshall
Thompson, founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals, including
reptiles. Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in
caring homes. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles
are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with
sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.
World Turtle Day was started 12 years ago to increase respect and knowledge for
the worlds oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for about
200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the exotic
food industry, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade, says Tellem. We
are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are
disappearing from the wild, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It
is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.
She added that many sea turtles lost their lives in 2010 thanks to BPs
uncontrolled oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. Its a tragic example of
putting profits before preserving our environment, Tellem said.
This year a special fundraising event is scheduled for May 20th at the world
famous Shack in Santa Monica, Calif. Tellem says that this is the first
fundraiser that the rescue has ever held, and members are looking forward to it
already. :There will be refreshments, door prizes and just a whole lot of
turtle talk, she said.
Tellem and Thompson note that experts predict the complete disappearance of one
of the worlds oldest creatures within the next 50 years. They recommend that
adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and
tortoises for the next generation:
Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the
Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or
If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same
direction it was going if you try to make it go back, it will turn right
Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved
or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead
to more endangered sea turtle deaths.
Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal
Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches.
This is illegal everywhere in the U.S.
Outlaw vendors at downtown Mercados and live food markets throughout the U.S.
are a major problem for turtles, especially the red eared sliderwater turtle.
These poor creatures have an almost 100 percent mortality rate due to ignorance
about their care, Tellem says. She added that tiny turtles need to be kept in
warm water, and must eat under water to survive.
Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around
the world. Our first priority here in the U.S. is to stop pet stores and
reptile shows from selling illegal hatchling tortoises and turtles, says
Thompson. We also need to educate people who are unfamiliar with their proper
care about the real risk of contracting salmonella from turtles. Schools and
county fairs are no place for turtles. Wash your hands thoroughly every time you
touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring live turtles into homes where
children are under the age of 12.
For answers to questions and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue
@tortoiserescue; Like American Tortoise Rescue at www.Facebook.com/AmericanTortoiseRescue;
and join World Turtle Day on www.Facebook.com/WorldTurtleDay.