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Tiny Turtles Arrive in Burlington!

A group of tiny turtles arrived at ECHO today.
BURLINGTON, Vt. - With pointed snouts and leathery shells, fourteen tiny spiny softshell turtles arrived at Burlington's ECHO Lake Aquarium Wednesday morning.

Steve Parren of Vermont Fish and Wildlife says, “when they're here at ECHO they're safe from predators, they're in a clean, healthy environment, and they're going to grow."

The threatened turtles were in the wild, collected, and brought to ECHO for some TLC.

“These nesting seasons, there’s hundreds of hatchlings that I am aware of, but most of these aren't going to make it,” Parren says.

There are only three-hundred of these turtles statewide. Natural predators account for some of the loss, but lakeside development is a growing issue.

“A lot of Lake Champlain, as beautiful as it is, is altered. There's houses and cement walls, and just a lot of activity."

Parren says one of the few northern Lake Champlain nesting sites has already disappeared. High lake levels, like we saw this summer, can also threaten turtle hatchlings.

“A cold, damp year, many of those nests, they may just run out of time,” he says.

The turtles delivered today will spend a little time swimming around in a tub of water while they acclimate to their new surroundings, and after a while they'll be moved to the publicly visible turtle tank. That's where the public will be able to watch as their growth continues.

Without this project at ECHO, kids like Eric and Liam might not see a tiny spiny shoftshell turtle otherwise. And they loved observing the turtles Wednesday!

Fish and Wildlife says this batch of baby turtles will be released into the wild sometime next spring. Officials also say it's hard to know if these protection efforts have benefited the population yet. Within a few years it should be more clear.
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