Hello, newsjunkies! The headlines are driving me mad. How about a little festive late night detour of the pantheistic sort, with a dollop of environmental consciousness-raising on the side?
Welcome to World Turtle Day(/Night!):
The 12th World Turtle Day is an annual event sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue (ATR). The day is organized to bring attention to turtles and tortoises around the world that are facing numerous challenges to their survival.
Founders Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson are the force behind World Turtle Day. “World Turtle Day was started 12 years ago to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the exotic food industry, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade,” says Tellem. “We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.” Tellem added that many sea turtles lost their lives in 2010 thanks to BP’s uncontrolled oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. “It’s a tragic example of putting profits before preserving our environment.
Oh, y’all know nothing lights a fire under me like that nasty old phrase “putting profits before…”
Before people. Before nature. Before nurture.
It’s not rocket science knowing how best to start protecting turtles – you would protect their nesting beaches and the seas around them – yet growing pressure from human development means turtles are losing out across the world.
Some places where turtles were traditionally hunted for meat and their shells are switching toecotourism instead. Turtles, like whales, must be worth more alive than dead, right?
Turtles are fantastic ocean ambassadors, but also indicators of the many ways we humans are screwing those same oceans up. Protecting turtles means changing fishing methods, protecting areas are needed for feeding and breeding, and for us to stop treating the ocean as a rubbish tip.
Emphasis above in bold is mine. I just really dig that sentence! The turtle is a great motif for studying the constructive and destructive forces, the yin and the yang, in our modern human story.
I don’t have my reference books on symbolism with me right now, so I will just have to rely on this quick bit of convenience from wikipedia:
Turtles are frequently depicted in popular culture as easygoing, patient, and wise creatures. Due to their long lifespan, slow movement, sturdiness, and wrinkled appearance, they are an emblem of longevity and stability in many cultures around the world. Turtles are regularly incorporated into human culture, with painters, photographers, poets, songwriters, and sculptors using them as subjects. They have an important role in mythologies around the world, and are often implicated in creation myths regarding the origin of the Earth. Sea turtles are a charismatic megafauna and are used as symbols of the marine environment and environmentalism.
Charismatic Megafauna! Ooh, what’s that:
Charismatic megafauna are large animal species with widespread popular appeal that environmental activists use to achieve environmentalist goals. Prominent examples include the lion,Bengal tiger, gray wolf, Przewalski’s horse, California condor, bald eagle, giant panda, harp seal, European Bison and humpback whale.
Environmental activists and proponents of ecotourism seek to use the leverage provided by charismatic and well known species to achieve more subtle and far-reaching goals in species and biodiversity conservation. By directing public attention to the diminishing numbers of giant panda due to habitat loss, for example, conservation groups can raise support for the protection of the panda and for the entire ecosystem of which it is a part. (The giant panda is portrayed in the logo of the World Wide Fund for Nature.)
Hooray for the panda, hooray for the turtle, hooray for their ecosystems, hooray for the Earth. Win-win-win-win!
Anyhow, back to the Turtle day links. HLN of all places has a Squeeeee-worthy collection of youtubes starring turtles interacting with various food items. For example, here’s someone’s baby sulcata carrying a piece of lettuce:
If I hear another wingnut whine about Benghazi or bash unions, I think I will return to these videos!
Parade magazine has some neat photos, as well. My favorite:
These two speedsters raced toward the ocean. Lucky for us, it was a photo finish.
Of course, I mentioned that destructive aspect. Here’s a piece that delves a bit into the details of the environmental threats facing turtles – World Turtle Day: A Look at Why Half of the Animal’s Species are Going Extinct.
From the link:
According to a 2011 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), nearly half of more than the 300 species of turtles are threatened with extinction – a plight equaled only by primates.
Furthermore, the IUCN warns, the impact of losing them goes far beyond fewer pet options.
“Turtles and tortoises are major biodiversity components of the ecosystems they inhabit, often serving as keystone species from which other animals and plants benefit,” the report explains.
And while the reasons for their disappearance abound, according to the IUCN, all of them go back to the same source: humans.
There’s that dirty old bastard again: Profit before… people… before nature… before nurture.
Because of this, in order to make sure that the animals that have been around since the dinosaurs don’t go the way of the way of their former peers, the report states an intervention is needed.
Among the most significant movements of late focused on minimizing human interference in the life of turtles is that of different towns, including Pensacola, Fla., to keep artificial light exposure over the ocean at a minimum.
The reason this is so important, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has to do with when the turtles hatch, which occurs at night. Because the small creatures orient themselves toward light, which traditionally came from the stars and moons, instead of making their way into the ocean, many of the newborn turtles are found scooting their way toward boardwalks or endlessly down the shore.
Oh dear goddess. The very well lit Kemah Boardwalk down here near Houston versus… Teeny Tiny Baby Turtle!
Just another reason I have a love-hate relationship with all these corporate-built “boardwalks” popping up more and more these days. They’re fun, but… at what cost.
It’s not all bleak and disaster capitalist, though! According to this press release from the World Conservation Society, via newswise, Slow and Steady, Turtles Gain Ground:
Last year, WCS unveiled a strategy to save the 25 most endangered turtles through conservation work at its Zoos and Aquarium, Zoological Health Program, and Global Conservation Programs.
At the Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo, more than a dozen turtle and tortoise species from around the world are being raised in “assurance colonies” to ensure they do not go extinct.
• Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles were recently hatched at the Bronx Zoo. Classified as critically endangered, fewer than 150 remain in the wild.
• The Bronx Zoo currently maintains an assurance colony of seven Roti Island snake-necked turtles, a species that was discovered in 1994 and subsequently hunted to near-extinction. Only a few scattered individuals remain in the wild.
• The Bronx Zoo currently maintains a population of eight Sulawesi forest turtles, a species only found on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It was described as a new turtle species in 1995. In the late 90′s, two to three thousand turtles per year were collected by traffickers, with the result that by 1999, the population had collapsed. Fewer than 100 of the animals removed from the wild remain alive today.
Progress over profits! Or, at least not behind them.
I’ll close with this uplifting tidbit of human interest from a local newspaper in Massachusetts: Chelmsford girl’s mission is to protect area turtle.
Chelmsford — Increasing respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures, World Turtle Day is coming to Chelmsford, thanks to one 11-year-old’s determination to bring awareness to the gentle animals facing extinction.
Parker Middle School fifth-grader Katarina Monnes will host a turtle awareness and children’s activities program at the Chelmsford Library on Thursday, May 23, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., as a part of her Girl Scouts Bronze Award project.
“They are interesting creatures. They have been around since before dinosaurs and have many unique characteristics. Did you know turtles never age? Some scientists are studying that. They can live to be over 100 years old, and only die from injury or disease, not old age,” said Monnes, who has raised funds for several national turtle foundations.
A little ecofeminist shero in the making, grin. Does my heart good!
The turtle hurtle
Monnes is now making it her mission to save local turtles, of which at least three of the six species are listed as threatened or endangered. In Chelmsford, there are box turtles, painted turtles, snapping turtles, bog turtles, red-eared slider turtles and wood turtles. The wood, box and bog turtles are endangered species.
“I hope people learn how to help, what we’re doing wrong to hurt the turtles, how we can stop that and more ways we can bring up the number of turtles,” said Monnes, who participated in a Junior Vet program at the Loggerhead Marine Rescue Center in Juno Beach, Fla. last year.
It’s as simple as that.
And wait, one more pic… one of my girls from the beginning of this year, doing their “terrapin terrific” best. Well, this is mostly just Lily bogarting and hamming it up for the camera, but you can see Rue’s little calico tush in the corner:
Alright. This is an Overnight Open Thread! Take care all and talk to you on the other side of tomorrow.
This will be a quick post, with a few observations…about a sick hateful portion of the human race that seems to really gain confidence from the veiled anonymous sense of security that comes from the comment sections and social media widgets/apps on the internet.
Last night, while watching the updates on the tragic tornado in Moore, OK on the local news station WFOR….they had a live updating social media chat box right next to the live TV feed. It was disgusting, and no matter how hard I tried to keep from looking over at that shit stream of trolling assholes saying the most horrible things…my eyes just kept drifting over and reading them. It was fortunate that this morning, the network had the brilliant idea to shut the damn thing down. It still is down, which is good!
These assholes were even making prank calls for help, or crying for assistance with finding family members…when they were actually full of shit. Some were saying they were first responders, and had info about various rescues…all false and misleading. It wad disgusting.
Case in point, look at the comments in this thread TV Reporter Breaks Down On-Air While Touring Oklahoma Tornado Aftermath | Mediaite
I know we have talked about the trolls before, but sometimes it amazes me just how far these assholes will take it.
Now for some links on the schools that took a direct hit yesterday in Moore, OK.
First, have you seen this video? A mother finds her son after the tornado as he sits with his teacher, if you keep watching you will see some other video of the scene that is very upsetting…hearing screams and such, just fyi.
Students emerge from Briarwood Elementary moments after a massive storm ripped through Moore, Oklahoma.
Look at those teachers, and what they did for their students…now read these next articles and keep those images in your mind.
Heroes or just doing their jobs? Teachers save lives during Okla. tornado
The two elementary schools leveled by the deadly tornado that swept through the Oklahoma City area Monday lacked designated safe rooms designed to protect children and teachers, despite state warnings that the absence of such facilities imperils lives.
At least two other schools in Moore — the epicenter of the disaster — did have safe rooms. So far no fatalities have been tied to those schools, whose buildings were fortified after a devastating twister hit the area in 1999.
These disparities in structural standards speak to the seeming randomness of who lived and who died in a natural disaster now blamed for taking the lives of at least 24 people, including nine children. Requirements for safe rooms in public schools vary from community to community across the swath of Midwestern and Southern states so accustomed to lethal twisters that it is known as Tornado Alley.
The city of Moore applied for $2 million in federal aid to help build safe rooms in 800 homes, but the city complained the program was delayed because FEMA standards were a “constantly changing target.” NBC’s Tom Costello reports…
>>> welcome back. here in the state of oklahoma , the expression “this hard land” comes to mind, and it’s true in more ways than one. when you think about it, the national conference of tornado preparation is held in oklahoma city , and they do that every year for a reason. this weather is a surprise to no one, and for the most part they’re ready for it when it comes. but nationwide, especially people on both coasts are asking why aren’t there more shelters, cellars, basements? why aren’t there more safe houses within houses across this region given the weather here? our report on that tonight from nbc’s tom costello.
>> reporter: yet another devastating tornado, and so many people are asking why aren’t there more basements in the very place they need them most, tornado alley , and why aren’t there more tornado shelters ? many of those who managed to get underground survived.
>> it ripped open the door , and it just glass and debris started slamming on us. we thought we were dead, to be honest.
>> reporter: basements are not common in oklahoma because the soil, heavy with clay and water, makes anything underground prone to flooding and mold. so most homes are built on a concrete slab. and most homes can only withstand 90-mile-per-hour winds, not 200.
>> we just don’t design homes on the interior of this country to sustain winds the same way we do along the coast.
>> reporter: but building a safe room for a shelter is a different matter. a safe room can be installed in the ground or inside the home itself. a reinforced box almost like a bank vault but built to fema tornado standards, but they cost 8,000 to $10,000 each. oklahoma has a lottery to decide who gets state help to pay for them. last year 500 homeowners were chosen out of 16,000 applicants. separately, the city of moore was applying for $2 million in federal aid to help build safe rooms in 800 homes, but the city complained that the program was delayed because fema standards were, quote, a constantly changing target. fema says it’s looking into what caused the delay. so why weren’t schools better prepared.
>> certainly yesterday raised a lot of questions with people, why don’t schoolses have storm shelters?
>> reporter: today state officials said 100 schools do have same roofs but they’re expensive. fema estimate $1.4 million per school.
>> when you’re glued to a limited number of funds you set priorities on which schools do want to ask for. not a matter they would be left out for any reason. it was a matter they hadn’t been brought forward yet.
>> reporter: the town of moore had not built any community tornado shelt bears the town said it faced only a 1% to 2% chance of a tornado ever hitting on any spring day . tom costello, nbc news.
Beside a temporary high school in Joplin, Mo., sits a field of concrete boxes with steel doors — bunkers trusted to guard students against 200-plus-mph winds like those that ripped their school apart two years ago Wednesday.
At the new Joplin High, a 16,000-square-foot music room will serve as a better version of the same thing. After tornadoes leveled the same school twice — the first time in 1971 — district leaders accelerated plans to include safe rooms in all new school construction, Superintendent C.J. Huff said.
Classes were out when the Sunday tornadoes decimated Joplin in 2011, but on Monday, the schools in Moore, Okla., were in. Seven children died at Plaza Towers Elementary School, some of them drowning after a pipe burst in the basement where they hid.
In both cases, the nation’s eyes turned to the schools, and their safety in the face of a tornado.
You can read the rest of those articles and think of this as an open thread…
A child was pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., on Monday.
Tonight there is devastation in Oklahoma.
A view of the tornado damage today in Moore, Okla., from KFOR Channel 4 in Oklahoma City. (KFOR Channel 4 photo)
Earlier today, my friend who lives out in OKC sent me a text…it was around 3:45pm est…it said,
Sirens going off. In the shelter.
I did not hear from her until just before 6pm est, she and her daughter and parents were fine. She said the family’s homes were damaged, and she did not know to what extent yet…and the family members who have checked in have been ok…so far. That “so far” is how she ended her text message. Chilling words….
A huge tornado, perhaps a mile wide, tore through towns near Oklahoma City on Monday, flattening homes and businesses, starting fires and sending residents scrambling to find friends and neighbors possibly buried in rubble.
As reports of injuries began coming in, the authorities said some people were trapped and rescue workers were still making their way to the severely damaged suburb of Moore.
Sgt. Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department said that at least one school in Moore suffered “severe damage,” but he had no information about possible injuries. “Numerous neighborhoods completely leveled,” he said by telephone. “Neighborhoods just wiped clean.”
Sergeant Knight said debris and damage to roadways along with heavy traffic were hindering emergency responders racing to the affected areas.
A spokeswoman in the mayor’s office in Moore said that there was no information on casualties, and that emergency workers were struggling to assess the damage.
“Please send us your prayers,” she said.
A massive, mile-wide tornado with winds up to 200 mph spent 40 minutes on the ground as it devastated homes, schools and businesses across southern Oklahoma City and its suburbs Monday afternoon.
The state medical examiner confirmed at least 37 deaths and said the toll was expected to rise.
Catastrophic damage was reported in Moore, where two elementary schools were destroyed, including one that took a direct hit. Several children were pulled alive from the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary, but there were no immediate reports of rescues or casualties at Briarwood Elementary.
Three hospitals reported treating at least 120 injured, including some children pulled from the Plaza Towers school.
More than 60 patients were treated for tornado injuries at Norman Regional Medical Center.
I have not heard from my friend since, I will let you all know more when I do…
Below are some links to articles with more information:
Video at that link.
This is an open thread.
Wow, I completely missed the morning.
I promise to get the morning reads up before the sun sets today, but just a quick observation before I get out of bed.
Last night I saw this headline and it gave me a powerful chill of deja vu. The Guardian via The Raw Story:
Hmmmm….where have I heard that kind of talk before?
From July 2005, The Washington Post regarding the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Sorry if this similarity has already been made around the blogosphere….this is an open thread. Morning reads coming soon.
Yo….it’s been a jungle of a day!
I have been in Atlanta for most of the day and this is the first time I have gotten online since early this morning. Other than a little excitement just up I75, during my time in the Northside Hospital waiting room at the Neurologist office…I have no clue what is going on in the world.
So…I will post one single thing that I find fits my mood perfectly. A cartoon by Randall Enos. Enjoy!
Yeah, open thread…right?
And I am too tired to do anything else. See you tomorrow.