June 27, 2016

Turtle Troubles Part Of Larger Problem

There goes the neighbourhood - many creatures called this home before resource extraction happened here.

There are many reasons not to engage in the planet-destroying excesses of consumer society. One of the most important for me is the preservation of non-human species. They are nice to behold, and we can learn valuable lessons from them. Most importantly, we can not exist without them.

We already know that life for this planet's human infestation, I mean 'population', is bound to be rough without the likes of ocean phytoplankton which produces 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

Einstein knew a lot about the nature of things, including the importance of our enormously stressed bees. He said, "“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, humans would only have four years left to live.”

It is not so much about "saving the whales", or the bees, or saving this or that, or even "saving the environment". What it really is, when you get right down to it, is "saving ourselves". We are inextricably linked to everything else. If consuming too much is the problem, then cutting consumption is the solution.

The overconsumption of the past few decades has decimated wilderness and wildlife. Habitat loss is occurring just about everywhere as we extract resources at an ever-increasing rate.

Snapping turtle surveying what has happened to her home.

Every other living thing we share this planet with deserves to live just as much as we do. They deserve any and all efforts to reduce our impact on conditions around us so that they may live. That includes the snapping turtle here in Nova Scotia, which were listed as "a species at risk" in 2013. I found this out doing research after meeting a snapping turtle while I was biking in the woods.

Snapping turtles are the province's largest fresh water turtle, reaching a size of up to 50cm (almost 2 ft). While they spend most of the year in water, towards the end of June and into July these creatures leave the water to lay their eggs in soft soil or sand.

Looking amidst the logging debris and destruction for somewhere to lay her eggs.

These prehistoric-looking amphibians can live to be over 100 years old. The one I saw looked 1000 years old, or older. Its wrinkly wrinkledness had to have been a million years old. I don't know how old it was, but it looked older than time itself. Turtles in other parts of the world can live to be hundreds of years old... if they are lucky and avoid contact with their main predator - us.

Resource extraction and increased access to the deep woods means that many snapping turtles are run over on roads, leading to a precarious drop in numbers. How exciting to see one for myself - it was an encounter I will never forget.

Could she be crying? Or are you of the opinion that non-human animals don't have feelings?

When Gandhi said, "Live simply so that others may simply live", I am sure he wasn't just talking about other humans. The planet is so much more than that. There is a need for us all to live simply so that everything else may simply live. Everything. Trees, turtles, phytoplankton, bees. Everything.

If we continue to show such blatant disregard for other species, it won't be long before we are headed for extinction ourselves.

Or are we already headed in that direction? I am not sure, but I can say that it was an amazing encounter when I got lost looking into the deep, dark, teary eyes of my neighbour the snapping turtle. I am glad we met, and I hope that future generations will have this same opportunity, perhaps with this exact same turtle.

I happily cut my personal consumption to make sure that everything can live. No sacrifice is too much to handle if it means snapping turtles and other living things may thrive together along with us on our beautiful, shared planet.


  1. What a lovely, timely, intelligent, and beautiful post. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Erin. It really was an amazing encounter.

  2. Anonymous6/28/2016

    Ditto everything Erin said!

    1. I hope to see more. Would be lovely to see babies in the fall. I will be returning many times to this location.

  3. I couldn't agree more. All living things are amazing. Sadly, humans are the predator of all living things.

    I'm especially fond of turtles. I saved a large snapping turtle from almost certain death last week. It was in the road just before a volleyball game was ending at a park where I walk. There would have been traffic exactly where this turtle was sitting. I saw a bump in the road and ran to get it in time. I felt good about helping it across the road to a place where humans weren't as likely to get this one. It isn't because I am so special. I felt good because we humans feel good when we do compassionate things. I know I scared it in the process. It closed up it's shell tightly. I'm glad it had a shell to retreat to. I save snakes too. And any other creature I can. Not boasting here, just think it's vital we all do all we can to help keep them out of harm's way.

    It truly is about saving ourselves. And having nature as we know it. We "need" nature to survive. I'm going to use that next time I get strange looks for caring and living a smaller footprint life. I'll respond with, "I'm saving myself and the human species." I like that.

    Great post and pictures! Turtles are special.

    1. Thanks, Terri. It does feel good to have compassion for all life. That is the way it is meant to be. Turtles are incredible creatures, and a strong symbol of Mother Earth. I feel honoured that this individual came into my life. It was a humbling moment.

    2. Terri, I think taking the time to DO a small compassionate act does make you special. :-)


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