SCCF Volunteers and Biologists Temporarily Relocate Florida Box Turtles
Participants of the Terrestrial & Freshwater Turtle Volunteer Group helped survey a private parcel on Sanibel to move Florida box turtles (Terrapene carolina bauri) out of the way of restoration work (debris removal, exotic removal, and replanting) and process unmarked turtles under the SCCF Florida Box Turtle Project research protocol. SCCF began research on this species in 2002 with a mark-recapture study that has become one of our top wildlife research projects on the island.
The SCCF Terrestrial & Freshwater Turtle Group is a volunteer group led by SCCF turtle biologists to help with surveys, research, and other issues dealing with non-marine turtle issues. Several species on Sanibel are the focus of intense research due to the rising threats on turtles worldwide that has, unfortunately, earned them the top slot as the most at-risk of extinction vertebrate group on earth. Turtles, both marine and non-marine, need all the assistance they can get as they are not well equipped to survive modern times with increasing habitat loss, increased environmental temperatures, and booming human use (food, traditional medicines, pet trade).
Sanibel is a very special place for turtles as all families of turtles found in the United States (7 of the 13 worldwide) are represented on the island by either living or nesting on Sanibel. Species such as the Florida box turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri), diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Florida chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia chrysea), Florida mud turtle (Kinosternon steindachneri), and striped mud turtle (Kinosternon baurii) are the main focus of the SCCF Wildlife & Habitat Management Program’s research, although the other species are also being monitored and data is being collected. All turtles on Sanibel are fully protected by the Sanibel Code (Section 10-6, d). SCCF turtle research is conducted with permits from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and permission from the City of Sanibel.
Both residents and visitors can help turtles and our research on the island by reporting the turtle species mentioned in this article. You can email, text, or call to report marked (notched shells and microchips) or unmarked turtles to firstname.lastname@example.org or (239) 222-4268.
CAPTION: This marked Florida box turtle has an implanted microchip, a notched shell using a unique numbering scheme, and thoroughly photographed for color and pattern uniqueness. This three-way identification protocol helps to positively ID individuals for our research, as well as to deter poaching.