On the 15th of January we attended a lecture and a series of activities which form part of the Action Plan for the Protection and Conservation of the European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis); this is the most threatened reptile species in Galicia.
The European pond turtle has been categorised as “in danger of extinction” in the Galician register of endangered species since 2007. The survival of the species is highly unlikely if the factors causing its present state persist.
The species lives, preferably, in stagnant or slow-moving waters where there is vegetation. Presently, naturally occurring wild populations only survive in three areas of Galicia, one of which is the Louro River and the wetlands of As Gándaras de Budiño. The others are the Avia and Arnoia rivers, and the Corrubedo Sand Dunes National Park and the lagoons of Carregal and Vixán.
The main threats to the European pond turtle are destruction of its habitat, capture as pets and invasive species. These invasive species are one of the most serious threats to the native turtles. The release of exotic turtles kept as pets is a large-scale problem as they compete for the same food and sunny habitats and can also transmit deadly diseases and parasites to the native turtles.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to inform and educate the population to avoid behaviour that can devastate the European pond turtle population.
Arantxa Fernández Gonçalves 1º ESO B [KS 3 UK equivalent]