CCFA Turtle Mascots
Sea turtles—even at diminished population levels—play an important role in ocean ecosystems by maintaining healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs, providing key habitat for other marine life, helping to balance marine food webs and facilitating nutrient cycling from water to land.
We are as passionate about turtles, as we are about all wildlife, which is why we have designed a turtle mascot to add to our collection of rhino, elephants, bongos and gorillas.
Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. They help maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster, and tuna. Sea turtles are the live representatives of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. Turtles have major cultural significance and tourism value. Five of the seven species are found around the world, mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. The remaining two species though, have relatively restricted ranges: Oliver Ridley is found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico and the flatback turtle around northern Australia and southern Papua New Guinea.
Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture—known as bycatch—in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites; it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.
To honour these beautiful and important creatures, we decided to name our mascots after the fictional Ninja Turtles. We did this because not only are the names fun and quirky but they are well known and loved and all named after important painters, inventors, engineers, sculptors and architects.
Let’s introduce you to Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo – our Ninja collection – as well as Oliver Ridley (who didn’t need a new name because we liked the name it was born with).
Leonardo (nicknamed Leo) is the oldest and most mature of the NinjaTurtles. This tactical, level-headed, quiet, courageous leader wears a blue mask and wields two swords. He was named after the Italian polymath, painter, engineer, inventor, writer, anatomist and sculptor, Leonardo da Vinci and is the name we have given to the Loggerhead turtle.
Loggerheads have large heads that support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins. They are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell compared to other sea turtles. Loggerheads are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean, nesting on beaches from Greece and Turkey to Israel and Libya.
Donatello (Donnie or Don) is a scientist, inventor, engineer and technological genius who wears a purple mask and wields a staff. He is the least violent turtle, preferring to use his knowledge to solve conflicts but never hesitates to defend his brothers. He is named after the early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence, Donatello and represents the Hawksbill turtle, so named for their narrow, pointed beak. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges. These coloured and patterned shells make them highly-valuable and commonly sold as ‘tortoiseshell’ in markets.
Hawksbills are found mainly throughout the world’s tropical oceans, predominantly in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges by using their narrow pointed beaks to extract them from crevices on the reef, but also eat sea anemones and jellyfish.
Michelangelo (Mikey or Mike) is the stereotypical teenager of the team: Free-spirited, relaxed, goofy, mischievous a jokester known for his love of pizza and kind-hearted nature. Michelangelo wears an orange mask and is named after the Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer. He also represents the green turtle – one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore among the different species.
Green turtles are in fact named for the greenish colour of their cartilage and fat, not their shells. Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched. Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites.
Olive Ridley Turtle – The name for this sea turtle is tied to the colour of its shell -an olive green hue. They are currently the most abundant of all sea turtles. Their vulnerable status comes from the fact that they nest in a very small number of places, and therefore any disturbance to even one nest beach could have huge repercussions on the entire population.
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