The Washington Times-Herald

Features

December 23, 2011

Turtle lovers plan iPad app to save endangered species

Haverhill, Mass — The endangered Blanding's turtle, distinguished by its bright yellow chin and throat, may soon have its own iPad app.

Local wildlife biologist Mark Grgurovic and videographer/software engineer Paul Michaels say they are working on the project as a way to raise public awareness of the plight of the fading species.

Proceeds from the turtle app, if and when it goes to market, will be used to pay for radio transmitter tags that would attach to the turtles to track and help protect them.

Residential and commercial development has eliminated much of the Blanding's turtle habitat and population from the Northeast to the Great Lakes, said Grgurovic.

Efforts are now needed, he added, to build replacement habitat and to protect those Blanding's turtles that remain so they can reproduce and increase in number.

The iPad app would introduce the world of the Blanding's turtle to school children and others around the world, said Grgurovic.

"We want kids to own it and enjoy it and be part of the (preservation) story," he said.

Blanding's is a somewhat small turtle, with a dome length of 6-to-10 inches. It can take up to 15 years to reach sexual maturity. But the species has also been known to live for 100 years.

Grgurovic said poachers have been known to snatch the hatchling turtles from Blanding's nests, and sell them on the black market for $10,000 apiece.

"Some people like having these as exotic pets," he said, adding they can die quickly if caged and not allowed to roam in a large area.

---

Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover,

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