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A Turtle with the Gift of Gab

June 26, 2017

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher (c)WCS

It seems that sometimes even turtles have something to say. A WCS-led study has found that pig–nosed turtles of Australia and New Guinea vocalize while feeding, basking, and nesting.

Until recently, scientists believed that most freshwater turtles did not have complex social interactions or postnatal parental care. But it turns out that these chatty chelonians are part of a select group of vocalizing reptiles.

WCS has previously documented the vocalizations of giant South American river tortoises in Brazil, which suggested that social interaction between female tortoises and their hatchlings might be more important than had been believed.

The pig-nosed turtle, also called the Fly River turtle, is classified as Vulnerable due to the illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss.

“Understanding how turtles communicate is important to help to protect them," said WCS’s Camila Ferrara, lead author of the study. "Noise pollution produced by ships, boats, jet skis, and other motorized watercraft may affect the reception of sound by turtles and potentially interfere with their communication.”

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