A living symbol of eternity Kaspiy newspaper

icon 27 May 2022 | 19:36

A living symbol of eternity

In recent years Turtle Day has been celebrated in many countries around the world.

World Turtle Day is celebrated on May 23. Vacation was founded in 2000 by the American Turtle Rescue Society in Malibu, California.

The date is intended to draw attention to the problem of mass death of turtles around the world related to human activities. Some species of these reptiles (which, incidentally, are older than dinosaurs from the moment they appeared on the planet!) Are disappearing right before our eyes. Thus, in 2012, Lonely George died, the last purebred representative of the Abindon ivory species from the island of Pinta in the Galapagos Archipelago.

On this day, activists of the green movement are carrying out actions demanding the return of the status of protected natural objects to the beaches where the sea turtles hatch, to break underpasses for turtles under busy interurban roads and also not to disturb people to eat. and not to buy products (cassettes, combs) from the shells of these animals.

Shell under the couch

If you are not attracted to large-scale feats in the name of turtles, you can at least learn more about these amazing creatures. For example, not everyone knows that turtles remember and recognize humans perfectly, so they distinguish their owner from others. However, the turtle will not even play with it, as it is not initially designed for such behavior, but it can bite.

The turtle is believed to be an economical pet. This is not entirely true. For a full life, depending on the species, you need a variety of foods: vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, insects … And in addition – a large terrarium with a corner of water (and not just a basin on the floor) or, conversely, a aquarium with plot.

In addition, turtles live long enough – like humans, and even more so. And so, unfortunately, it happens that a live toy that has bothered the owners is thrown into nature – and it is not a fact that in the right conditions. By the way, the age of a turtle for most species can be estimated from the condition of the shell – the upper “cover” of the shell. In very old people, the annual rings on it are smoothed, they have lost their relief and the shell itself is almost monophonic, without ornament.

Difficult Neighbor

Turtles play their role not only in nature but also in science, bringing benefits to humans. For example, in 1968, two Central Asian steppe turtles circled the Moon with the Soviet spacecraft Zond-5 and returned safely to Earth.
And the ungrateful Homo sapiens creates turtles – and not just domestic ones! – Many problems. One of them is the pollution of the oceans with plastic waste. It used to be believed that sea turtles ate such garbage, full of injury and death, accidentally, misinterpreting it for jellyfish and other foods, which contradicts the data about the excellent sight, hearing and smell of these animals. But recent research has revealed that of all the litter, turtles deliberately eat only old plastic because it emits a “delicious” smell that appeals to them. What such a fragrance dictates, scientists have not yet understood.

Turtles have also been affected by global warming: it has upset the sex balance in many populations, as in many species the sex of young is determined by ambient temperature.

Lovers of fish and melon

There are almost 350 species of turtles on Earth. Water and land, the size of a palm and almost twice the size of a human, with the strongest shell and a very soft, even elastic … From all this diversity in our country, as the zoologist AM Alekperov writes in his monograph , only three species live: the Mediterranean turtle and two species of freshwater – the Caspian and the swamp.

The Mediterranean is herbivorous and the other two species are predators and are not opposed to feasting on small fish, frogs and insects, eating algae. Caspian and swamp turtles, which are widespread in our country, sometimes cause minor damage to the economy: for example, they can eat fish caught in nets or gnaw the core of a melon in a coastal garden.

The Caspian turtle is quite large, 20-25 cm and until recently it was believed that its maximum length reaches 30 cm. However, officials of the Institute of Zoology of ANAS N. Novruzov and F. Ganiev found a specimen of this species with a shell length near Lake Nourgel in the Gabala area 36 cm is a real record.

Reaper victims

The terrestrial Mediterranean turtle in our country was somewhat less fortunate, although, as it seems, nothing foretold … Representatives of this species are distributed throughout Azerbaijan, do not have many natural enemies – only a few birds of prey and it is not common to we eat turtles, although the meat of this species, especially the liver, is distinguished for excellent taste.

The popular ban on eating turtles and generally causing any harm to them dates back to antiquity. Sarah Ashurbeyli in the History of the City of Baku notes that in the ancient Turkish burials discovered in the middle of the last century near Mingachevir, Mardakan and Shuvelyan, there were shells and turtle bones.

The ancient Turks borrowed the role of the turtle in their funeral ceremonies from the Chinese, who considered this animal a symbol of eternity. However, despite the favorable living conditions, from the middle of the last century, the number of Mediterranean turtles in our country began to decline sharply – the reason was the mechanical cultivation of the fields. In 1989, this species was registered in the Red Book of Azerbaijan and by the end of the century was on the verge of extinction – only 40 people remained. The same sad picture was observed in the neighboring countries of Azerbaijan, where the causes were added forest fires, overgrazing, illegal fishing, etc.

But by 2007, the number of Mediterranean turtles in Azerbaijan had already reached three hundred. This is thanks to the British Petroleum Biological Development Program, which has been working for five years to increase the population of these reptiles. So there is hope that this kind of turtle will leave the Red Book.

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