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World Turtle Day 2023 – May 23

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World Turtle Day - May 23 2023World Turtle Day is annually observed across the globe on May 23 to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.

23rd May 2023 marks the observance of the 23rd World Turtle Day. 

  • The theme of World Turtle Day 2023 is “I Love Turtles”.


i. In 2000, the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a non-profit organization based in Malibu, California, United States of America (USA), launched World Turtle Day.

ii. The day is being annually celebrated across the globe on May 23 since 2000.

iii. ATR and World Turtle Day were established by a husband and wife duo, Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, who saved two Russian tortoises named Peggy Sue, in 1990.


World Turtle Day is observed to raise awareness about the need to protect turtles and tortoises and their nesting sites across the globe.

About Turtle:

i. Turtles are hard-shelled reptiles that protect them from predators.

ii. They are among the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles, having evolved millions of years ago.

iii. According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), the turtle order Testudines (or Chelonia), divides into the suborders “Cryptodira” and “Pleurodira”, which are further divided into 13 families, 75 genera, and more than 300 species.

iv. Although the terms “turtle,” “tortoise,” and “terrapin” are sometimes used interchangeably, the types of chelonians have distinct differences.

  • Turtles spend most of their lives in water- It has webbed feet or flippers and a streamlined body.
  • Tortoises are land animals- Their feet are round and stumpy, adapted for walking on land.
  • Terrapins live on land and in water, usually in swamps, ponds, lakes and rivers.

Threats to Turtles:

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)- Species Survival Commission (SSC) Marine Turtle Specialist Group has identified 5 major global threats to sea turtles: fisheries bycatch, coastal development, pollution and pathogens, direct take, and climate change.

Turtles in India:

i. India has at least 29 species of freshwater turtles (24) and tortoises (5) along with 5 species of marine turtles.

ii. India is also home to one of the largest freshwater turtles, the Asian giant softshell. This turtle can reach lengths of 51 inches and a mass of 250 kg.

iii. As per the latest amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 2022, which became applicable in April 2023, nobody will now be allowed to keep Indian turtle species at home.

iv. According to the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022, 28 Indian species of a total of 29 are protected under the WPA 1972.