|Watch Out for Turtle Crossing!
by Katie Whanger, Outdoor Programs Team
Everyone has something that for them signals the start of summer and for me that thing is turtles! This time of year turtles are everywhere; sunning themselves on logs in ponds, digging in our flowers beds and even swimming with us in the ocean. Unfortunately, this includes our roadways too, and all too often, that combination doesn't end well for the turtle.
Daisy, a Yellowbelly Slider Turtle
Turtles have a sturdy shell that provides protection from the elements and some predators, but their shell is made of bone and is certainly no match for a car. So why do turtles cross that road? To get to the other side! Well actually, in many cases, they do it to lay their eggs- especially at this time of year. Regardless of the habitat they live in, turtles must come on land to find a suitable area to dig a nest and deposit their eggs. This means aquatic turtles living in our many rivers, creeks and even drainage ditches often have to cross the road to lay their eggs.
So what should you do if you see a turtle crossing the road? The best thing to do is just slow down and let the turtle finish crossing. Or if safe, pull over and assist the turtle to the side of the road in the direction it is heading. (Remember turtles can bite - and some are more aggressive than others - so please use extreme caution!) Although it may be tempting to take the turtle home or "relocate" the turtle to another location, this is often not the best choice. The egg laying process may be interrupted or suspended completely, or worse the turtle may not be able to quickly adapt to its new surroundings and therefore become susceptible to disease or predation.
Sunny, an Eastern Box Turtle
Speaking of turtles, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reports that there are 26 species of turtles occurring in Virginia. Check out their webpage
for a listing of species and click on each for more details and cool pictures! A good way to identify a turtle you see is to look at the shape of its shell (is it flattened or domed?), the kind of feet it has (webbed, clawed, flippers?) and the surrounding habitat (freshwater, saltwater, wooded area?); these will give you a good idea of at least what family it belongs too.
Two of my favorite local species are the eastern box turtle and the yellowbelly slider. Both also happen to be animals in our Environmental Education Program. Daisy is a yellowbelly slider who loves water, has webbed feet and a slightly flattened shell to help her glide through the water. Sunny is an eastern box turtle with a domed shell, clawed feet for digging and prefers wooded areas.
Katie introducing a turtle in Back to Nature camp
About the author, Katie Whanger: Katie has been working for Parks & Recreation for 6 years. She is currently part of the Outdoors Team that offers outdoor and environmental programming. Katie also recently played an important role in coordinating this year's Earth Day Celebration at Mount Trashmore Park.
Prior to working for the city, Katie worked at the Virginia Zoo. She has degrees in Biology and Wildlife Science from Virginia Tech and has always loved learning about and exploring nature. Her favorite part of her job is being outside and sharing her love of the natural world with others!
Thank You to Our Clean the Bay Day Volunteers
Clean the Bay Day
was held on Saturday, June 5. Volunteers in Virginia Beach cleaned 51 zones throughout the city. A total of 2,022 volunteers cleaned over 150 miles of shoreline and roadway and collected a total of 36,142 pounds of debris! The most common items found were plastics and cigarette butts and the most unusual item found was a go-kart.
Helping to Clean the Bay from the water
All over Hampton Roads, more than 5,900 volunteers - including 123 boats - removed 85 tons of trash from 300 miles of shoreline and roadway Saturday, according to a preliminary count by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Mark your calendars for June 4 of next year to volunteer for Clean the Bay Day 2011.
This event takes place just once a year, but we remind you to keep our waterways clear of debris all year long. The debris that goes in to the local waterway will find its way to the Chesapeake Bay and will have devastating effects on wildlife. For more information on this and other events to help keep the Bay clean, go to CBF.org
Volunteer for the Storm Drain Marker Project
Storm water pollution is a major source of our nation's water quality problems. A study showed that 50% of the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is due to storm water runoff. Water that runs off streets and buildings picks up litter, motor oil, excess fertilizers and other pollutants as it makes its way into natural waters.
How can you help? Volunteer to adhere 4-inch stainless steel markers on storm drains with the message "Drains to...(with the specific watershed)." There are over 30,000 storm drains to be marked in Virginia Beach, but it only takes 5-10 minutes to adhere the stainless steel marker on each drain. This program is an excellent project for families, scouts and other groups. All materials are provided, simply volunteer your time! Call Anne Marie at 385-0472 for more information.
|Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation believes all of our diverse citizens have a right to participate in community recreation and we are committed to creating equal access for everyone who may have a challenge or barrier. If you or your child requires additional support, we can help. Learn more about our accommodation and inclusion services.
|We welcome your comments and questions. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.