Turtles are the most threatened vertebrate (think backbone) group of species on the planet today. It is amazing to think that a taxa (classified in the order chelonians and including all turtles and tortoise species) with species that may live in oceans, rivers and land, and were on Earth at the time of the dinosaurs, is now in serious risk of extinction.
Of the approximately 320 chelonian species, half are approaching extinction and the causes are a testimony to human greed and carelessness. We use turtles as medicines, pets, and increasingly food, while we also kill them at an unprecedented rate using vehicles on the land and in water.
As for the global turtle crisis that is tied closely with the demand for food, many people are unfamiliar with the rate at which we ship live turtles out to other countries around the world to supply an ever expanding demand for turtles to end up on dinner plates. We are literally raping our rivers, oceans and even land; removing turtles that we just now are realizing may serve as ecosystem sentinels and engineers.
Dr. Sharon Deem has been working with many species of turtles since she was a little girl. Starting with helping turtles hurt in her hometown after then had a run in with a lawn mower or car to leading sea turtle health assessments in Africa and the Americas. Today she and her colleagues are introducing 1000s of school age children to turtles and tortoises. In these programs the team uses these iconic creatures to help let people understand the conservation challenges of today to simply getting them outside to enjoy nature.
Here we share a number of websites and scientific and layperson papers that Dr. Deem and her colleagues have published. You will learn great turtle facts while also learning how you too can learn how to help with turtle conservation.
Resources on turtle conservation and one health
If you have 10 minutes, please enjoy this video on turtle conservation and One Health.
And a second video we made in 2006 while living in Gabon, Africa and working to save leatherback turtles
Publications are available either on ResearchGate online or by simply sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deem, S.L., and Harris, H.S. Sea Turtle Health Assessments. In: Manire, C., Norton, T., and Stacy, B. (eds.), Sea Turtle Health and Rehabilitation: A Complete Veterinary Guide. J. Ross Publishing (in press).
Palmer, J.L., Blake, S., Wellehan, J.F., Childress, A., and Deem, S.L. 2016. First reported clinical Mycoplasma sp. infections in free-living three-toed box turtles (Terrapene carolina triunguis) in Missouri. J. Wildl. Dis. 52: 378-382.
Adamovicz, L, Bronson, E., Barrett, K., and Deem, S.L. 2015. Health assessment of free-living Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in and around the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore 1996-2011. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 46: 39-51.
Blake, S., Guézou, A., Deem, S.L., Yackulic, C.B., Cabrera, F. 2015. The dominance of introduced plant species in the diets of migratory Galapagos tortoises increases with elevation on a human-occupied island. Biotropica. 47: 246-258.
Jandegian, C.M., Deem, S.L., Bhandari, R.K., Holliday, C.M., Nicks, D., Rosenfeld, C.S., Selcer, K.W., Tillitt, D.E., vom Saal, F., Vélez-Rivera, V., Yang, Y., and Holliday, D.K. 2015. Developmental exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) alters sexual differentiation in painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). Gen. Compar. Endocrin. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25863134)
Bhandari, R.K., Deem, S.L, Holliday, D.K., Jandegian, C.M., Kassotis, C.D., Nagel, S.C., Tillitt, D.E., vom Saal, F.S., and Rosenfeld, C. S. 2015. Effects of the environmental estrogenic contaminants Bisphenol A and 17 Ethinyl Estradiol on sexual development and adult behaviors in aquatic wildlife species. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 214: 195-219.
Deem, S.L., Palmer, J.L., and Blake, S. 2014. St. Louis Box Turtle Project. Saint Louis Magazine. 30: 20-21.
Noss, A.J., Montaño, R.R., Soria, F., Deem, S.L., Fiorello, C.V., and Fitzgerald, L.A. 2013. Chelonoidis carbonaria (Testundines: Testudinidae) activity patterns and burrow use in the Bolivian Chaco. So. Am. J. Herpetol. 8: 19-28.
Montaño, R.R., Cuéllar, E., Fitzgerald, L.A., Soria, F., Mendoza, F., Peña, R., Dosapey, T., Deem, S.L., Noss, A.J. 2013. Ranging patterns by the red-footed tortoise - Geochelone carbonaria (Testundines: Testudinidae) in the Bolivian Chaco. Ecol. en Bolivia. 48: 17-30.
Deem, S.L., Norton, T.M., Mitchell, M., Segars, A., Alleman, A.R., Cray, C., Poppenga, R.H., Dodd, M., and Karesh, W.B. 2009. Comparison of blood values in foraging, nesting, and stranded loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) along the coast of Georgia, USA. J. Wildl. Dis. 45: 41-56.
Bourgeois, S., Gilot, E., Viallefont, A., Boussamba, F., and Deem, S.L. 2009. Influence of artificial lights, logs and erosion on leatherback sea turtle hatchling orientation at Pongara National Park, Gabon. Biol. Conserv. 142: 85-93.
Deem, S.L. 2009. Battle of the beaches. Africa Geographic. February: 39-41.
Deem, S.L., Boussamba, F., Nguema, A.Z., Sounguet, G.-P., Bourgeois, S., Cianciolo, J., and Formia, A. 2007. Artificial lights as a significant cause of morbidity of leatherback sea turtles in Pongara National Park, Gabon. Marine Turtle Newsletter. 116: 15-17.
Parnell, R., Verhage, B., Deem, S.L., Van Leeuwe, H., Nishihara, T., Moukoula, C., and Gibudi, A. 2007. Marine turtle mortality in southern Gabon and Northern Congo. Marine Turtle Newsletter. 116: 12-14.
Formia, A., Deem, S., Billes, A., Ngouessono, S., Parnell, R., Collins, T., Sounguet, G.-P., Gibudi, A., Villarubia, A., Balazs, G.H., and Spraker, T.R. 2007. Fibropapillomatosis confirmed in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa. Marine Turtle Newsletter. 116: 20-22.
Deem, S.L., Dierenfeld, E.S., Sounget, G.P., Alleman, A.R., Cray, C., Poppenga, R.H., Norton, T.M., and Karesh, W.B. 2006. Blood values in free-ranging nesting leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) on the coast of the Republic of Gabon. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 37: 464-471.
Deem, S.L. 2003. Synthèse des connaissances acquises sur les tortues marines du golfe de Guinée au cours des dix dernières années. Canopée. 23: NDIVA I-II.