(By Kim Ryan) Some of you may remember Ranger Rob discussing the plight of the yellow belly slider turtle when he appeared on episode #117 of Beach Talk Radio. He was sounding the alarm about a Fort Myers Beach store selling these turtles to vacationers and his crusade to end this business practice. Well, he’s making progress on his quest to get the store to stop selling these tiny creatures.
These cute reptiles are quite small, about the size of a half dollar or less. While Florida FWC rules allow for the sale of these types of turtles with the proper permitting, the 1975 rules state “live turtles with a carapace length of less than 4 inches shall not be sold, held for sale, or offered for any other type of commercial or public distribution.”
Ranger Rob says not only is their scant education provided to those who buy these turtles from the local store, he says this store employees are telling the buyers lies about the care needed and the size these turtles will grow to, all in an effort to sell them. It’s important to note, the store on the beach we’re talking about is not a pet store, it’s a souvenir and beach clothing store.
Ranger Rob spoke before the FMB Marine Resources Task Force advisory board last week and brought up his concerns. He also presented a draft ordinance he created in an effort to get local businesses to stop the selling of the live turtles on the beach. The committee discussed the issue, with one member stating “it’s cruel and inhumane.” They agreed to look into it and place it on their next agenda.
While it’s not his intent nor desire to shut the store down, Ranger Rob says he wants this practice stopped, “I do not want to find any more turtles left behind in a hotel pool or dead around the island.”