Beachgoers in Florida Confuse Gopher Tortoises With Sea Turtles and its not Good for the Reptiles

July 12, 2017

Beachgoers in Florida have been confusing gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) with sea turtles and have been putting the tortoises into the ocean, so St. Johns County issued a warning and erected signs to let folks know that they shouldn’t be moving the reptiles, or even touching them.

"Gopher tortoises are mistaken for sea turtles. People will pick them up and place them into the ocean, when they are in fact, gopher tortoises and they belong in the dunes," Tara Dodson, the environmental supervisor with St. Johns County told News4Jax.

One way to tell the difference is sea turtles have flippers, while gopher tortoises have claws. 


Dodson says the county gets about three to four calls a week on the issue, so in an effort to educate the public about the dangers to the tortoises of putting them in the ocean where they don’t belong, the county has erected several signs in multiple beach access points in St. Johns County.

Gopher tortoises are a protected species in the state of Florida and are listed as threatened. Both the reptile and its burrow are protected by state law. 


Related Articles

Earliest Reptile Footprints

The earliest evidence for the existence of reptiles has been found in Canada.

How Tadpoles Optimize Their Buoyancy

Tadpoles are well-equipped to adjust their buoyancy in the water.

Blood and Short-tailed Python Care Sheet

The best blood and short-tailed python care and information.

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit Module

Cast Your Vote

What is the average amount you spend per year on your herp’s veterinary care (including medication)?


Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleEdit Module

Find Us On facebook

Edit Module