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Posted on: June 27, 2018

SOFTSHELL TURTLE MORTALITY EVENT– HOW YOU CAN HELP FWC WITH ITS INVESTIGATION

Softshell Turtle

BACKGROUND: The FWC is investigating a die-off of freshwater turtles, first reported in early 2018 from the St. Johns River (SJR) watershed near the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area. The mortality event is primarily affecting Florida softshell turtles, and as of June 20th, the cause of these mortalities remains unknown. Samples from necropsied turtles have thus far tested negative for a variety of toxins and a few specific viruses. Additional laboratory results are pending.
Most confirmed reports of sick and dead softshells have been received from Orange, Putnam, Seminole and St. Johns Counties. Although scattered reports have come from other counties, we have not yet obtained softshell turtles from these other areas to verify via necropsy and histology (microscopic evaluation of tissue structure) whether these reports are related to the primary event.
We are seeking assistance from biologists who understand the importance of accurate data collection in field research. Your participation will help us to better gauge the distribution and spread of this mortality event and whether it has expanded beyond the SJR. The data you collect will also help us to determine the event’s duration in both specific bodies of water and at a broader landscape scale.
Please see the guidelines below for information on data collection, as well as how and when to collect sick or dead turtles if possible. We know that everyone’s time is valuable, and we much appreciate any assistance that you can provide.

Please CLICK HERE to learn how to collect and report data. 

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