World Turtle Day [May 23]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 1, 2023, 15:30

Tortoises and turtles are symbols of wisdom and endurance. These reptiles can be associated with a range of habitats all over the world. They excavate burrows for other organisms to live in and maintain beaches by eating dead fish that often wash up on the shoreline. They help maintain ecological equilibrium, so it's critical to protect these peaceful creatures.

World Turtle Day is celebrated to honour and discuss Turtles and tortoises. It is celebrated on May 23.

World Turtle Day History

World Turtle Day was first celebrated in 2002 by American Tortoise Rescue to increase awareness of the suffering and declining numbers of these species due to human involvement and environmental risks.

On International Turtle Day, educational institutions, rescue facilities, and nature enthusiasts all join together to discover more about these animals and vow to show support for their rescue. Marshall Thompson and Susan Tellem founded American Tortoise Rescue. They hold fundraising events and continuously try to raise notice about the plight of these shelled creatures.

The duo is recognised for treating all creatures, especially reptiles, with care. Since its inception in 1990, American Tortoise Rescue has helped over 4,000 turtles, and tortoises find new homes.

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World Turtle Day Significance

People organise events to celebrate the creatures and spread awareness about the preservation of turtles for the upcoming generations on International Turtle Day. It is very easy to mix up a turtle and a tortoise. The fundamental comparison between these two is that turtles can live on both land and water, whereas tortoises can only live on land.

Furthermore, Turtles have smooth, largely flat shells and can live to be 40 years old. Tortoises have thicker, more conical shells and can live over 300 years. Turtles are generally found in the sea, whereas tortoises live in lush jungles and grasses. Even though tortoises and turtles are two separate species, this day is celebrated to honour and safeguard both.

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World Turtle Day - Key Highlights

Below are some highlights of International Turtle Day:

2000First World Turtle Day
2004World Turtle Trust funded the Costa Rica Leather-back project for nesting on beaches
2007NGO American Tortoise Rescue received approval from the Ministry for the Environment, French Polynesia, to monitor and safeguard a field in Tetiaroa during the nesting season
2011Sydney Aquarium Conservation Fund (SACF) announced the launch of the turtle tagging project
201233 turtles were hospitalised at Wildlife Center along with other non-turtle creatures - 17 turtles were released after healing well
2013Wildlife Center recovered and rehabilitated 5 Eastern Box Turtles - they returned to their natural habitat after a long recovery period

Tagline: “Shellebrate World Turtle Day 2019”

Theme: Adopt, Don’t Shop


- Focused on bringing attention and increasing respect and knowledge for tortoises and turtles

- Knowledge shared about the importance of turtles to the marine ecosystem

- Ideas shared about conservation


Theme: Turtles Rock

- Scientists rescued the critically endangered Bellinger River snapping turtles, bred 35 healthy babies, and sent 20 turtles back to the wild

- On May 24, Oceana Canada used #WorldTurtleDay to talk about a ban on single-use plastics

World Turtle Day is observed to increase public awareness about the importance of protecting turtles and tortoises and their vanishing ecosystems across the world.

Throughout 2000, American Tortoise Rescue, a nonprofit organization concerning the security of all species of tortoises and turtles, commemorated International Turtle Day.

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FAQs on World Turtle Day

Q.1. When is World Turtle Day celebrated?

World Turtle Day is celebrated on May 23 every year.

Q.2. What is the significance of World Turtle Day?

World Turtle Day is observed to raise awareness about turtles and to guarantee that they are protected.

Q.3. What can you do on World Turtle Day?

World Turtle Day can be celebrated in the following ways:

  • Consider adopting a turtle - Adopt a tortoise or turtle from a rescue centre. These critters are low-maintenance pets. They require a lot of attention and are ideal pets for children under the age of ten.
  • Donate to a turtle conservation organization - You can consider donating to a local turtle conservation facility or the American Tortoise Rescue. There is no such thing as a small donation, so your contribution will be worthwhile.
  • Volunteer to assist - You might volunteer at a tortoise rescue facility by signing up. Volunteers can help by feeding turtles, taking care of sick turtles, etc.

Q.4. How do people observe World Turtle Day?

World Turtle Day is observed in distinguishing ways worldwide, including dressing up like tortoises or wearing bright green summer clothes, rescuing tortoises stuck on roadways, and conducting research. Course materials and art projects for Turtle Day allow students to learn more about turtles in school.

Q.5. What was the theme of World Turtle Day 2021?

The theme for World Turtle Day 2021 was 'Turtles Rock', which urges people worldwide to perceive turtles and tortoises as more than just shells with legs.