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World Turtle Day: History, Celebration and Themes

Learn here about world turtle day theme, history and how we can celebrate this international event

World turtle day was founded by American Tortoise Rescue and was celebrated the first time in 2000. The founder of American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) is Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson (a husband and wife team).


When is world turtle day?

World Turtle Day is celebrated on 23rd May every year. The main objective of celebrating world turtle day is to spread awareness about the protection of the natural habitat of turtles & tortoises.

American Tortoise Rescue is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to working for the rehabilitation and rescue of all different species of turtles and tortoises. The organization also works to protect the environment where these reptile species live.

World turtle day is an international event celebrated all over the world in different ways. People organize various events and activities to celebrate this day for the preservation of turtles for the upcoming generations. Spreading awareness in schools is also an important activity to make the youth aware of the risks involved with the survival of these species of the reptile family.

If you also care about turtles and want to contribute to protecting this wonderful species, then you can go through this article to collect more information about world turtle day and conservation of these species.

World Turtle Day History

The husband-wife team of American Tortoise Rescue realized in 1990 that some species of the beautiful hard-shelled reptile are very close to extinction. There were many causes of this extinction, such as environmental hazards, cruel hunting of these species, harvesting of their eggs for human profits, etc.

This was the time when they took this issue on serious notes and decided to stood for the protection of this water species. The husband-wife team took this issue on the international platform and planned to spread awareness about the conservation of various species of turtles and tortoises across the globe. As a result of their initiative, the emergence of world turtle day happened, and we started celebrating it on 23rd May every year. However, the official announcement of world turtle day occurred in 2000. 

In 2000, this was the starting of the journey of World Turtle Day. The organization put a lot of effort into educating and encouraging people about the protection of turtles and tortoises along with the loss of their habitat. 

In 2002, The American Tortoise Rescue organization announced the world turtle day to be celebrated on 23rd May every year. Since then, we celebrate this event on this particular date annually. 

In 2004, the world turtle day was celebrated with a lot of passion. Various activities were carried out this year for the protection of turtles. World Turtle Trust funded for Costa Rica Leather-back project for nesting on the beach.

In 2007, the non-profit organization “American Tortoise Rescue” got approval from Ministry for the Environment in French Polynesia to monitor and safeguard a field during the entire nesting season on Tetiaroa. 

Since 2007, the organization continued the process of monitoring turtles and also concerned about their protection.

Also check about – Ocean acidification prevention

In 2010, the world turtle day was again celebrated as raising awareness about the different species of turtles and tortoises. However, the main attraction this year was the Parthe, smiley sunny turtle and Perth, black and white group shot.

In 2011, the Sydney Aquarium Conservation Fund (SACF) announced the launching of a turtle tagging project in support of world turtle day. The main objective of this project was to spread awareness about the threat to the turtles and their protection.  

In 2012, this day was celebrated with more passion and enthusiasm. On 23rd May 2012, 33 new turtles were hospitalized at Wildlife Center along with other non-turtle creatures. The good news was that out of 33, 17 turtles were ready to release after cure. 

In 2013, it was a new beginning to the celebration of world turtle day. American Tortoise Rescue organization was getting achievement year by year in its great movement of rescuing turtles. This year Wildlife Center recovered and rehabilitated 5 Eastern Box Turtles. These five turtles returned to their natural wildlife after a long period of recovery. 

A dozen turtles remained at the center for further recovery and hospitalization.


In 2014, the Wildlife Center was celebrating the “part two of turtle release 2014” sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue. On this year, it was celebrated with a release of a dozen turtles back to their home territories. This turtle day, the diet of each turtle included a big berry as a treat.    

In 2015, the Wildlife Center achieved great results in rescuing turtles sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue. This year, Wildlife Center was taking care of 24 turtles that were admitted in 2014. Out of these 24 turtles, 14 turtles were ready to release in their home territories. As a celebration of world turtle day, these 14 turtles were planned to move to an outdoor enclosure for one week after that they were released to their territories.

In 2016, the Wildlife Center and American Tortoise Rescue organization were facing towards a new successful year for world turtle day. In 2016, the center was taking care of 25 turtles. Many of these turtles were recovered and ready to leave the center within a few weeks.  

In 2017, the world turtle day was observed worldwide on 23rd May. The day was celebrated globally to save turtles and tortoises that are rapidly becoming endangered due to loss of habitat and destruction of the ocean ecosystem.  

In 2018, people across the world got involved in various projects that include the rescue of turtles and tortoises. The celebrations and protection activities were happening in different parts of the globe in support of world turtle day.

In 2019, this event was celebrated under a tagline “Shellebrate World Turtle Day 2019”. The theme of world turtle day 2019 was “Adopt, Don’t Shop.” There were many activities included in the celebration of World Turtle Day 2019, such as dressing up like a turtle, conducting roadshows promoting the existence of turtles, distributing many lessons & teaching material in various schools for awareness about turtle protection, etc.  

World Turtle Day 2020

World Turtle Day 2020 is coming. The planning for the events and activities has been started with a lot of enthusiasm. It is another year to bring attention and increase knowledge about the protection of the world’s oldest reptile creature.  

The theme of world turtle day 2020 will focus on bringing attention and increasing respect and knowledge for tortoises and turtles. In addition, Motivating humans to come and help them survive.

This international event will be celebrated worldwide in various ways. People will dress up green in support of world turtle day. Multiple events will be organized. A lot of knowledge will be shared about the importance of turtles to the marine ecosystem and for the entire environment. Along with this, different ideas will be shared about the conservation of this shell covered sea creature.


How Can We Celebrate World Turtle Day?

  • Raise awareness about turtle protection in your peer groups.
  • You can also use social media to spread awareness.
  • World turtle day is an excellent opportunity to donate some money or time for the preservation of your favorite turtle species. 
  • Global warming through human activities is one of the major reasons for facing the extinction of these species. Hence, we need to restrict those activities that are responsible for causing harm to turtles and tortoise species.
  • Plastic pollution is majorly affecting the ocean ecosystem affecting various species of turtles and tortoises. We should minimize the use of plastic products.
  • You can also coordinate with your friends and organize an event to clean the beaches to reduce marine pollution.
  • Proper waste disposal plays a vital role in minimizing marine pollution.
  • Disposal of chemicals and toxins from factories also need to be controlled to help the survival of various species of turtles and tortoises. 
  • If you are staying at nearby places of sea beaches, then you can help turtle preservation by switching off unwanted lights
  • Unnecessary lights disturb the natural hatching process of the turtles as they hatch in moonlight during nesting season.
  • Very importantly, say no to turtle products to protect turtle preservation. 
  • You can also plan fun related activities to promote turtle preservation such as turtle-themed party, games like pin the tail on the turtle, cutting a turtle-shaped cake, etc.

Turtles are important creatures of seas and oceans that play a vital role in maintaining the health of flora and the coral reefs of the marine ecosystem. Sea turtles are also helpful in adequately balancing the marine food web.

As we are the one who is polluting the marine ecology through various activities, hence it is our responsibility to take all the preventive measures to protect such a valuable sea creature. Raise more and more awareness about turtle preservation at an individual level and initiate different events to support world turtle day every year on 23rd May.

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