May 23rd is World Turtle Day
A giant South American river turtle (Podocnemis expansa) equipped with a tiny acoustic transmitter lumbers back to its watery home in the Meta River in eastern Colombia. A team of scientists from WCS and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) are fitting 15 turtles with the devices to better understand their movements. This is the first time this technology has been used in Colombia to study this species. The giant South American river turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in Latin America, reaching lengths of three and a half feet (1.07 meters) and weights of 200 pounds (90 kg). It is locally endangered due to commercial overhunting and egg collection. The turtles play an important ecological role by dispersing seeds that eventually help regenerate vegetation along river corridors. The WCS/TSA team says that understanding the turtles’ travels will help protect the species from potential threats. Learn more about this project.