One of the most beloved creatures on this planet are turtles. I mean, who doesn’t love a turtle?
Not only can they be cute and fun to watch move around, but turtles are some of the most fascinating reptiles because of how long they’ve been around and the impressive number of years they can live in a lifetime. For instance, the world’s oldest living turtle is about 191 years old.
Unfortunately, several turtle species are endangered. This includes the Vallarta mud turtle, which is considered the smallest turtle species in the world. Thankfully, a non-profit organization is working hard to keep them around.
A non-profit breeding, conservation, and research center named Turtle Island works all around the world in an effort to support populations of turtle species worldwide.
In one of their many projects, the organization is partnering with the Centro Universitario de la Costa of the University of Guadalajara (CUC), the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), and the Estudiantes Conservando la Naturaleza (ECN) to ensure the Vallarta mud turtle does not go extinct.
This adorable, tiny turtle species, which was recently described in 2018, is considered the world’s smallest turtle. The males often don’t grow longer than 75mm in length. While they spend three to five months buried in the sand during a period similar to hibernation, they spend the rest of the year in slow-moving streams, swamps, and ponds.
The Vallarta mud turtle is highly endemic to a small valley in the Mexican provinces of Nayarit and Jalisco. Unfortunately, the area is becoming popular for tourism, and the turtles are beginning to suffer from habitat loss.
Additionally, in 2022, Turtle Island’s team of researchers found a road had been built in the path of the turtles’ migration, causing automobile incidents and leading them to extinction.
Turtle Island, led by Austrian scientist and turtle lover Peter Praschag, and its partners have taken the initiative to support the Vallarta mud turtle population in their native region.