News Release Archive

Marina the wood turtle is going home.

The adult turtle has been living at the Nova Scotia Museum of
Natural History since early August, when she was discovered in an
unsuitable habitat just outside Halifax city limits. Named by the
museum's younger visitors, Marina will be released back into the
wild Thursday, Sept. 11, into a wood turtle community in the
Middle Musquodoboit area.

Wood turtles are not uncommon, but they are considered vulnerable
in Nova Scotia as outlined recently by the Committee on the
Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Shy and nervous but healthy when she arrived, Marina had
obviously been kept as a pet. A 5-mm hole with plastic ring-clip
was drilled through her carapace, or shell. A rope or chain was
likely attached to this ring.

"This was a potentially harmful and painful thing to do," said
museum curator Andrew Hebda. "A turtle's shell has veins. A hole
causes disfiguration, can cause bleeding and infection, and is
painful. It doesn't usually work either, as these little critters
are strong and can easily break away."

Many people think wood turtles will make good pets, but what they
fail to realize is that, as with all wild animals, the turtles
require special diets and attention.

Once this is discovered, the owner often releases the turtle, but
not always in the right habitat. If infected, the turtle can harm
other healthy populations; if released in an unsuitable habitat,
he or she will not survive.

Wood turtles feed on aquatic insects and tadpoles found along
slow-moving streams.

"It takes 10 to 15 years for one to grow to maturity and
reproduce," said John Gilhen, retired museum amphibian reptile
expert. "Racoons frequently predate nests, and hatchlings are
vulnerable to other predators. An adult turtle is important in
sustaining populations."

Each summer the Museum Nature Centre is temporary home to a
variety of amphibians and reptiles like Marina. They are a
teaching tool, educating young and old about the behaviour, care,
habitat and animal sensitivity. Throughout their stay, proper
feeding and care is given in preparation for release back into
the wild and the long winter ahead.
Marina is healthy and plump (as plump as a turtle gets) and ready
to go home. She will be introduced into a healthy wood turtle
population in Meaghers Grant.

Marina will be at the Museum Nature Centre, at 1747 Summer St.,
until 10 a.m. Thursday for those who wishing to say goodbye.

Museum hours until Oct. 15 are: Mondays-Saturdays 9:30 a.m.-5:30
p.m., except Wednesdays when it is open until 8 p.m.(free
admission after 5:30 p.m.); and Sundays 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m.


Contact: Brenda Boutilier
         Museum of Natural History

ngr                     September 9, 1997             11:05 am