Two different Chinese soft-shelled turtles have been sighted, raising concerns that they could establish a breeding population.
People on Wollaston Beach near the town of Quincy, Massachusetts have reported sightings of a Chinese soft-shelled marsh turtle digging in the sand.
After being removed by the New England Aquarium’s animal rescue team for identification, a second sighting was reported in the same area.
Zoologist Nigella Hillgarth, the president and CEO of the aquarium said “The concern is that if it can establish a population, it actually can survive our winter. It could cause major changes in the ecosystem. None of the animals in that ecosystem are adapted to a predator of that size. It eats large amounts of small fish, mussels, clams and insects.”
Though considered endangered in the wild, some 300 million are raised on farms for food purposes.
It’s possible that someone may have released the animals after purchasing them to eat.
The turtles have become an invasive problem in the Philippines and since they prefer brackish marshes and ponds, they have established themselves in California, Hawaii, and even Virginia.
Since these turtles have such a unique look, such as its leathery shell and long pointed snout, scientists are urging anyone who sees them to report it to the proper authorities.