Turtle conservation groups are designating 2011 as the Year of the Turtle.

Hawksbill turtleThe sex of some species of turtles is determined by the temperature of the nest: warm nests produce females, cooler nests, males. And although turtles have been on the planet for about 220 million years, scientists now report that almost half of the turtle species is threatened. Turtle scientists are working to understand how global warming may affect turtle reproduction. To bring attention to this and other issues affecting turtles, researchers and other supporters have designated 2011 as the Year of the Turtle.

Turtles are central to the food web. Sea turtles graze on the sea grass found on the ocean floor, helping to keep it short and healthy. Healthy sea grass in turn is an important breeding ground for many species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans.

Through outreach efforts to researchers, educators, natural resource managers, and the public, the Year of the Turtle campaign aims to increase US national involvement in local-to-national turtle issues. International outreach is extending Year of the Turtle efforts to a broader range of participants worldwide. In 2011, a monthly newsletter will highlight ongoing efforts. Visit www.yearoftheturtle.org for more information.

Further Reading: State of the Turtle