National Wildlife Day

National Wildlife Day on September 4 was founded in 2005 to raise global awareness and education for endangered animals and the need for conservation and preservation. Locally, the South Florida Wildlife Center works tirelessly in association with the Humane Society of the United States to protect wildlife through rescue, rehabilitation and education. The turtle population is often at risk from careless humans in Florida as reported by the SFWC. WMODA will be partnering with SFWC in to celebrate art and wildlife. Stay tuned for more details!

The beaches of Broward County are nesting grounds for several species of sea turtles, including the Loggerhead and endangered Green and Leatherback Turtles, who make their way to our shores to lay their eggs in the sand. Hollywood’s North Beach is a designated sea turtle hatchery with a preserve to protect these special visitors. South Florida Wildlife Center treats many species of turtle affected by marine and other debris. Recent turtle rescues by SFWC include an operation to remove pieces of balloon lodged in the intestine of a snapping turtle found in Dania Beach. Another turtle patient, a Florida cooter, is learning to swim again after one of her flippers got caught in a fishing line and had to be amputated.

Even without human disturbance, sea turtles experience an epic journey of survival from land to sea - terramar. An adult female Loggerhead sea turtle travels thousands of miles to return to the original beach where she hatched to lay her own eggs. Under the veil of night, she digs a hole in the sand and buries up to 200 eggs which incubate for about two months. From June to September in Florida, hundreds of hatchlings emerge from their sandy nests under cover of darkness and scramble across the beach to the sea.

In the Fort Lauderdale area, Sea Turtle Oversight Protection staff organize night-time beach adventures to watch newborn sea turtles emerge from their nests. See the threats the tiny hatchlings face as they mistakenly scurry towards the bright city lights and are rescued by trained staff who help them to the ocean’s edge.

The sea turtle can live up to 80 years, about the same lifespan as humans. Their longevity, perseverance, and perceived wisdom has led to turtle myths in many cultures. In Hindu myth, Kurma is a great turtle which provides a celestial foundation upon which a mountain is balanced. In China, traditional creation mythology involves a giant cosmic turtle named Ao whose legs were used to prop up the heavens. To the Native Americans, turtles are associated with the lunar cycle and the power of female energies. Various Native American groups use the term Great Turtle Island as an alternate name for America. In Mohawk tradition, the trembling of the Earth is believed to be the World Turtle stretching beneath the great weight that she carries. Just as the turtle cannot separate itself from its shell, neither can we separate ourselves from what we do to the Earth.

WMODA has several pieces of fired art which honor the turtle. In glass, Brenna Baker of Hollywood Hot Glass was commissioned to produce hundreds of baby sea turtles drawing attention to the endangered species that hatch on the beaches of Broward County. British studio potter and marine biologist Roger Cockram has depicted sea turtles on his stoneware vases. Sally Tuffin has focused on the patterns of their shells in her vases for the Dennis Chinaworks. Lladró of Spain has produced a porcelain tableau of two sea turtles gliding through the waves while Andrew Hull has created an anthropomorphic sculpture of Tobias the Turtle. Humorous turtles have also been portrayed by the Ardmore studio artists in KwaZulu Natal, which is not far from the Indian Ocean. On the shores of Zululand, Loggerhead and Leatherback sea turtles breed in the local waters and lay their eggs in the sand. The Ardmore artists have added a fantasy twist with Zulu riders aboard the turtles. Turtle designs can be seen also in Alyssa Ligmont’s ceramic art in the WMODA shop.