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World Turtle Day 2024 – May 23

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World Turtle Day - May 23 2024World Turtle Day is annually observed across the globe on 23 May to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises, one of the world’s oldest creatures, and their disappearing habitats worldwide.


The theme of World Turtle Day 2024 is “Let’s Party” with rescue favourites Bunkl, Spinner, and Evil waking up from hibernation.


i.World Turtle Day was launched in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization based in Malibu, California, the United States of America (USA).

ii.World Turtle Day has been celebrated on 23rd May since 2000.

iii.ATR and World Turtle Day were established by the couple Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle.

  • They started their turtle rescue in 1990 with two Russian tortoises named Peggy Sue.

Note: In 2023, the World Turtle Day event reached over 2 billion people through various media, with participants from the United States (US), India, Pakistan, etc.

About Turtle:

i.Turtles, including tortoises and terrapins, belong to the Testudines family of reptiles (often called chelonians).

ii.Turtles inhabit most of their time either in saltwater or freshwater while tortoises live exclusively on land.

iii.They are four-legged vertebrates with a cold-blooded metabolism and scales covering their body and are protected by a tough, impenetrable shell.

Taxonomic Classification:

i.The turtle order, Testudines, is categorised into 2 suborders Cryptodira and Pleurodira, by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

ii.These suborders are distinguished by their methods of retracting heads and feet into shells.

  • These suborders split into 13 families, 75 genera, and more than 300 species.

Key Points:

i.According to 2021 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, 171 or 62.4% of the 274 species listed turtle species are considered globally threatened.

ii.The IUCN-Species Survival Commission (SSC) Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) offers comprehensive expertise and science-based recommendations for conserving freshwater and terrestrial turtles and tortoises worldwide.

iii.As the official IUCN Red List Authority, TFTSG plays a pivotal role in assessing and categorising global threat levels for these species.

Current Challenges:

i.Turtles have been around for 260 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing.

ii.Turtles and tortoises face severe threats from smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming, and the pet trade.

iii.Experts warn that 61% of turtle species are already extinct, and many more could disappear within 50 years.

Turtle in maintaining environmental balance.

i.Turtles actively participate in nutrient cycling within ecosystems.

ii.Their presence aids in controlling predator populations, thereby preserving the delicate balance of various species.

iii.Turtles contribute to the purification of water bodies by consuming decaying matter.

iv.Their presence helps regulate algae growth, ensuring healthier aquatic environments.

v.By consuming various organisms, turtles indirectly support other wildlife populations.