All babies are small compared to their parents, but there is something particularly awesome about the size difference between this proud mama Galápagos Tortoise and her tiny new hatchlings, who emerged from their shells back in January 2014 at Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo. This zoo became the first in Australia to successfully breed Galápagos Tortoises when RJ, the slightly larger baby you see standing between the wee hatchlings and parent, hatched three years ago.
One of the longest-living vertebrates, Galápagos Tortoises can live for over 100 years in the wild and reach weights of around 880 pounds (400 kg) and lenghths of up to 5 feet (1.5 m). They are found only on the Galápagos archipelago, west of continental Ecuador.
Head over to ZooBorns for additional photos and to learn more about Galápagos Tortoises.
Happy World Turtle Day. The purpose of World Turtle Day, May 23rd, is to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive. Since the year 2000, WTDay has been sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue. They created this day as an observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. “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 Susan Tellem, a founding member of ATR.
Scientists in Brazil have managed to eavesdrop on underwater “turtle talk”.
Their recordings have revealed that, in the nesting season, river turtles appear to exchange information vocally - communicating with each other using at least six different sounds.
This included chatter recorded between females and hatchlings.
The researchers say this is the first record of parental care in turtles. It shows they could be vulnerable to the effects of noise pollution, they warn.
The results, published recently in the Journal Herpetologica, include recordings of the strange turtle talk. They reveal that the animals may lead much more socially complex lives than previously thought.
The team, including researchers from theWildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the National Institute of Amazonian Research carried out their study on the Rio Trombetas in the Amazon between 2009 and 2011.
They used microphones and underwater hydrophones to record more than 250 individual sounds from the animals.
The scientists then analysed these vocalisations and divided them into six different types, correlating each category with a specific behaviour.
Dr Camila Ferrara, of the WCS Brazil programme, told BBC News: “The [exact] meanings aren’t clear… but we think they’re exchanging information.
"We think sound helps the animals to synchronise their activities in the nesting season," she said.
The noises the animals made were subtly different depending on their behaviour. For example, there was a specific sound when adults were migrating through the river, and another when they gathered in front of nesting beaches. There was a different sound again made by adults when they were waiting on the beaches for the arrival of their hatchlings.
Dr Ferrara believes that the females make these specific sounds to guide hatchlings to and through the water.
"The females wait for the hatchlings," she told BBC News. "And without these sounds, they might not know where to go."
Since many species of turtles live for decades, the researchers also think that young turtles might learn these vocal communication skills from older individuals.