Turtle Talk: What’s Your Favorite Animal?
As a child, how often were you asked to name your favorite animal? What did you answer? When you ask a child you know today, what do they say? Of course if you have had the pleasure of living in such a beautiful place as coastal Walton County, there’s a chance you’d hear sea turtles mentioned. Otherwise you probably won’t hear a child say sea turtle and even more rarely will you hear them say some other type of turtle or reptile.
That is right… R-E-P-T-I-L-E.
Sea turtles are reptiles. Unfortunately just seeing the word reptile often conjures up strong images in peoples’ minds of scaly, dark, slithery and slimy creatures. Scaly, yes. Dark, sometimes. Slithery, ummm how would you move around if you were long and had no legs? But slimy? No. A common misconception and stereotype about reptiles. Yes, we know that reptiles aren’t thought of as cuddly little creatures. But seriously folks, have you seen a tree frog or salamander or sea turtle or hatchling sea turtle? They’re pretty stinkin’ cute if you ask us.
Sadly, because reptiles have such a bad rap, they are often overlooked in a child’s list of favorite animals. They’re also often overlooked in conservation efforts. All creatures deserve help and protection, even reptiles.
This brings us to World Turtle Day®.
Yes, you read that right. World Turtle Day®. A whole day for the entire world to celebrate turtles! While we, the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles, do not think one day is enough, we are glad that for fifteen years there has at least been one day for the world to focus entirely on turtles. Our friends, the American Tortoise Rescue organization, started this celebration to bring more attention to the plight of turtles and tortoises all over the world.
As you know, we are partial to sea turtles so we are choosing to focus our celebration of World Turtle Day® entirely on them.
Since the actual date, May 23, this year occurs during Memorial Day weekend we will be celebrating a little early on May 19th. After all, who doesn’t mind celebrating a little early, right? We definitely do not. Another reason we’re excited about this is because we will be celebrating with our new partner, the Walton County Coastal Branch Library. This will be the first of many programs we’re conducting with the library.
May 19th at 4pm (right after Lego club) we’ll kick off the event with a reading of local author, Paul Lowery’s book, “Do You Know Where Sea Turtles Go?” and debuting our cool new song #cleandarkflat. Then there will be different stations for the children to wander around that have sea turtle games, activities and even a make your own sea turtle craft. Of course our ambassador, Shelly, will be there for anyone that wants to have a #shellfie taken with. No, there won’t be cake nor will there be ice cream, and there definitely won’t be party balloons, but to say we’ll be having a fun action packed hour(ish) at the library is an understatement.
Can’t join us on the 19th between 4-5pm? No worries.
You can still celebrate turtles on your own or with your family or friends. Wear green. Go to the beach and pick up trash or fill in leftover holes or knock down leftover sand castles. Check out a book about sea turtles from the library. Check out our friends, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website http://myfwc.com/education/wildlife/sea-turtle/ They have some really fun sea turtle info and activities.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate World Turtle Day®, we’re glad you are and we know that the sea turtles, tortoises and all the other turtles of the world are better for it.
– Faith W.