The Marion Natural History Museum after-school group had a wonderful time learning about the Eastern Box Turtle with Brian Butler of Oxbow Associates, Inc. Brian explained why land turtles are rounder than turtles that live in water, and that turtles have been on earth for 200 million years. Box turtles protect themselves by pulling their heads and legs into their shell and closing up, however they don’t move very fast. Although their shells can protect them from foxes and other predators, they aren’t able to protect them from the weight of a car. When they try to cross a roadway and a car comes along, their instincts tell them to close up and stay put until the danger goes away. Because a turtle’s spine is fused to the shell, if the shell gets run over and cracks they won’t survive. If you see a box turtle trying to cross the road, please stop (if you can do so safely) and help move it off the road in the direction of where it’s headed.
Brian showed us some of the measures that can be used by scientists to protect turtle nests from predators and locate turtles in the field. We had a fun time locating the receivers that can be attached to the turtles so they can be located by radio telemetry. The students had a great time using the antennae receiver equipment to find the radio transmitters hidden in logs and shrubbery. The museum thanks Brian for the unique opportunity he provided to our students to have a hands-on experience in learning how scientists can help to protect these endangered animals.
Brian will be meeting with adults at Washburn park on Saturday, May 22, to help us learn a little about these turtles and, hopefully, locate a few. If you’d like to register for this program, please go to the Marion Natural History Museum website at www.marionmuseum.org and fill out a registration and submit. This program will be limited in number of attendees, and we will be following state recommendations for masks and social distancing.