On the first Friday of every month, we go live with Aquarium educators to meet a new animal or dive deep into an important issue for our blue planet.

This time, Taylor takes us behind the scenes to meet some special baby turtles.

Blanding’s turtles are endangered in the wild. The New England Aquarium participates in a Head Start program—coordinated by our friends at Zoo New England—to give these turtles a head start in the wild. Watch today’s installment of First Friday Facebook Live to learn more about Blanding’s turtles, the challenges they face in the wild, and how local institutions are coming together to help this special species of freshwater turtle.

Watch

First Friday Facebook Live: Blanding's Turtles

At the Aquarium

While the young head start turtles remain behind the scenes during their stay at the Aquarium, there is one special Blanding’s turtle that makes appearances during our Live Animal Presentations. Learn more about turtles at the Aquarium and Skip on our blog.

Skip the Blandings turtle
Skip here is a Blandings turtle that makes occasional appearances during Live Animal Presentations at the Aquarium.

Conservation Context

As Taylor mentioned in the Facebook Live event, the East Coast populations of Blanding’s turtles are endangered. A major threat is habitat fragmentation. Since this species travels long distances between wetland habitats, they are vulnerable to being killed while crossing roads. In fact, roads are the primary cause of adult mortality, according to the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Another challenge for this species is that they are very long-lived and don’t reach sexual maturity until later in their teenage years.  
The Aquarium participates in a Head Start program, coordinated by Zoo New England, to raise baby Blanding’s turtles in captivity over the winter. When the turtles are released back into the wild the following spring, they have grown significantly more than they would have in the wild and now have a leg up on survival.

You can help baby turtles too! Get involved in the Head Start program by hosting baby Blanding’s turtles over the winter. Look for citizen science projects or habitat clean-ups in your neighborhood, like our own live blue Service Corps. Be aware of turtles on the roadways. You can assist a turtle across a road by gently lifting it (holding it on the back and sides of its shell) and placing it on the other side, always in the direction it was heading—only if it is safe for you to do so! Awareness and taking action to help turtles are just a few of the ways we can come together to help our local turtles.