Raising awareness regarding the rich diversity, ecology, and conservation needs of turtle species occurring in the United States

Fifty-nine turtle species occur in the United States and many are of conservation concern. While species from areas such as Asia, South America, and Madagascar often receive the majority of conservation attention, the plight of North American species quietly goes unnoticed. The goal of this education project is to increase awareness regarding the status of these often overlooked, ecologically significant animals and emphasize the rich diversity, natural history, and conservation needs of species found in the United States. Florida Turtle Conservation Trust researchers will visit numerous sites accompanied by other biologists and conservationists in an effort to see as many species as possible during a single year, while examining threats and conservation actions needed. The project's progress will be featured on this website, promoted via social media outlets, and presented at several organizational conferences and meetings (both during and after the project).

The Big Turtle Year is modeled after the informal birding competition known as a Big Year. Changing attitudes in the late 19th century from counting individual birds via hunting to counting species by observation inspired the modern birding hobby. A Big Year is a competition among birders to see who can identify the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and specific area. The Big Turtle Year is designed in a similar manner and we strongly encourage others to see how many turtle species that they can locate in their state or geographic region during a single calendar year.

The Big Turtle Year is an initiative of the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust, a conservation NGO formed in 1999 by a group of  biologists and conservationists concerned with the conservation outlook for Florida turtles. The FTCT is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization designated by the IRS and donations are tax-deductible as allowable by law.

57 out of 59 species observed as of 12/28/2017



Learn about our new initiative which focuses on visiting sites across the United States, while accompanied by various researchers and conservationists, in an effort to see as many turtle species as possible during a single year.  

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Take Action

Please consider contributing to our crowdfunding campaign and spreading the word about this conservation education project. The success of this conservation project will be built upon your support.

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Photo credits:
Top banner: Suwannee cooter (Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis) by Timothy J. Walsh
Bottom right: Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) by George L. Heinrich