World Turtle Day (May 23), Discover the Importance of World Turtle Day and How to Celebrate


Learn about the significance of World Turtle Day and why it is celebrated. Explore the history of this global event and find out how you can participate and contribute to turtle conservation. From educational initiatives to volunteer opportunities, discover ways to make a positive impact on the survival of these fascinating creatures.

World Turtle Day is an annual observance celebrated on May 23rd to raise awareness and promote the conservation and protection of turtles and tortoises worldwide. It aims to educate the public about the importance of these reptiles and the threats they face, such as habitat destruction, pollution, illegal trade, and climate change.

The concept of World Turtle Day is based on various cultures and mythologies that depict the Earth as being supported or carried on the back of a giant turtle. This belief is known as the “World Turtle” or “Turtle Island” myth, found in different indigenous traditions.

The day was established by the American Tortoise Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of turtles and tortoises. Since its inception in 2000, World Turtle Day has grown into an international event with various activities and initiatives organized by individuals, conservation groups, zoos, and educational institutions.

The main goals of World Turtle Day include raising awareness about the importance of turtle conservation, promoting responsible pet ownership for turtles, supporting rehabilitation efforts for injured or sick turtles, and advocating for stronger legal protections for these vulnerable species.


Activities on World Turtle Day often include educational programs, art contests, beach cleanups, turtle-themed events at zoos or aquariums, and fundraising campaigns for turtle conservation projects. The day serves as a reminder to take action and make a positive impact in preserving the natural habitats of turtles and ensuring their survival for future generations.

sea turtle


History of World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day was founded by the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization based in California, United States. ATR was established in 1990 by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson with the aim of rescuing and rehabilitating abandoned and endangered turtles and tortoises.

The idea for World Turtle Day originated in 2000 when Tellem and Thompson recognized the need to raise awareness about the threats faced by turtles and tortoises worldwide. They wanted to create a special day dedicated to these reptiles to promote their conservation and highlight the urgent need for their protection.

On May 23, 2000, the first World Turtle Day was celebrated. The date was chosen because it coincided with the nesting season of several turtle species. The founders believed that by raising awareness during this critical period, they could make a significant impact on turtle conservation efforts.

The initial celebration of World Turtle Day involved educational programs and events organized by ATR, focusing on the importance of turtles in ecosystems, their role as indicators of environmental health, and the need to protect their habitats. Over the years, World Turtle Day gained recognition and popularity, expanding beyond the efforts of ATR.

Numerous organizations, schools, zoos, and individuals worldwide began joining the cause, organizing their own activities and initiatives to commemorate World Turtle Day. These include beach cleanups, turtle releases, habitat restoration projects, art contests, and public awareness campaigns.

World Turtle Day has become an international event, raising awareness not only about the conservation of turtles and tortoises but also about the broader issues of habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and the illegal trade of these reptiles. It serves as a platform for educating the public, advocating for stronger legislation, and promoting responsible pet ownership to ensure the welfare of turtles and tortoises.


The annual celebration of World Turtle Day continues to grow, with more individuals and organizations participating each year to make a positive impact on the conservation of these remarkable creatures.

World Turtle Day Timeline

Here is a timeline highlighting the key events and milestones in the history of World Turtle Day:

  • 1990: The American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) is founded by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson in California, USA, with the goal of rescuing and rehabilitating turtles and tortoises.
  • 2000: The first World Turtle Day is celebrated on May 23, initiated by ATR. The day aims to raise awareness about turtle conservation and protection.
  • 2001: World Turtle Day gains recognition beyond ATR, with other organizations and individuals joining the cause and organizing their own events and activities.
  • 2002: The World Turtle Day website is launched, providing a central hub for information, resources, and updates related to the event.
  • 2003: World Turtle Day expands its reach internationally, with participation and events taking place in various countries around the world.
  • 2004: The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) officially endorses World Turtle Day, further promoting the cause within the global zoo and aquarium community.
  • 2010: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognizes and supports World Turtle Day, acknowledging its role in raising awareness about turtle conservation.
  • 2013: World Turtle Day celebrates its 14th anniversary, with an increasing number of educational institutions incorporating turtle-themed activities into their curriculum.
  • 2015: World Turtle Day gains significant social media presence, with hashtags such as #WorldTurtleDay and #SaveTurtles trending and spreading awareness on various platforms.
  • 2017: World Turtle Day continues to inspire conservation efforts, including the establishment of protected turtle nesting sites and the implementation of stricter regulations against illegal turtle trade.
  • 2020: Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, World Turtle Day adapts to virtual platforms, with online webinars, virtual tours, and educational content shared to engage a global audience.
  • 2023: World Turtle Day celebrates its 23rd anniversary, continuing to be recognized and observed by organizations, individuals, and educational institutions worldwide.

Throughout its history, World Turtle Day has served as a catalyst for awareness, education, and action to protect turtles and tortoises and their fragile ecosystems. It has fostered a global community dedicated to the conservation of these remarkable reptiles and the preservation of their habitats.

When is World Turtle Day celebrated?

World Turtle Day is celebrated annually on May 23rd.

How to Celebrate World Turtle Day

There are several ways you can celebrate World Turtle Day and contribute to the conservation and protection of turtles. Here are some ideas:

  1. Educate Yourself: Take the opportunity to learn more about turtles and their conservation. Read books, articles, and watch documentaries about different turtle species, their habitats, and the challenges they face. Educate yourself on responsible pet ownership if you have or plan to have a turtle as a pet.
  2. Spread Awareness: Use your voice and social media platforms to raise awareness about World Turtle Day. Share informative posts, facts, and pictures of turtles to educate your friends, family, and followers about the importance of turtle conservation.
  3. Volunteer: Look for local conservation organizations or wildlife centers that work with turtles. Volunteer your time and skills to assist with turtle rescue and rehabilitation efforts, habitat restoration projects, or educational programs. You can also participate in organized beach cleanups to help protect turtle nesting areas.
  4. Support Conservation Organizations: Consider making a donation to reputable turtle conservation organizations. These funds can be used to support research, habitat preservation, and rescue initiatives. Look for organizations that focus on turtle conservation and have a proven track record of positive impact.
  5. Reduce Plastic Use: Turtles are particularly affected by plastic pollution. Help reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the environment by practicing plastic-free habits. Avoid single-use plastics such as straws, bags, and bottles, and opt for reusable alternatives. Participate in local cleanup events to remove plastic debris from beaches and waterways.
  6. Create Art and Crafts: Encourage creativity by organizing or participating in turtle-themed art contests or craft activities. This can involve drawing, painting, sculpting, or creating other forms of art that highlight the beauty and importance of turtles. Share your creations online or display them in public spaces to inspire others.
  7. Adopt Responsible Pet Ownership: If you have a turtle as a pet or are considering getting one, ensure that you are well-informed about proper care and responsible ownership. Research the specific needs and requirements of the species you have or plan to have, and provide them with a suitable habitat, diet, and veterinary care.

Remember, the goal of World Turtle Day is to raise awareness and take action to protect these amazing creatures. By celebrating and participating in these activities, you can contribute to the conservation of turtles and make a positive impact on their survival.

Why We Love and Celebrate World Turtle Day

There are several reasons why we love and celebrate World Turtle Day:

  1. Fascinating Creatures: Turtles are unique and fascinating creatures. They have been around for millions of years and have remarkable adaptations that have allowed them to survive and thrive in various habitats. Their longevity, diverse species, and intriguing behavior captivate our interest and curiosity.
  2. Environmental Indicators: Turtles play a crucial role as indicators of environmental health. Their presence or absence can indicate the overall well-being of ecosystems such as wetlands, rivers, and oceans. By studying turtles, scientists can gain insights into the state of the environment and make informed conservation decisions.
  3. Biodiversity Conservation: Turtles are an important part of biodiversity, and their conservation is vital for maintaining ecological balance. They contribute to the stability and functioning of ecosystems by influencing nutrient cycling, vegetation dynamics, and population control of their prey. Celebrating World Turtle Day helps raise awareness about the need to protect and preserve these important species.
  4. Cultural and Mythological Significance: Turtles hold cultural significance in many societies around the world. They are often symbolized as wisdom, longevity, and the connection between earth and water. Celebrating World Turtle Day allows us to appreciate and honor the cultural and mythological significance of these animals.
  5. Conservation Challenges: Turtles face numerous threats, including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, illegal trade, and accidental capture in fishing gear. World Turtle Day provides an opportunity to highlight these challenges and inspire action to address them. By celebrating and supporting turtle conservation, we can contribute to their survival and the protection of their habitats.
  6. Personal Connection: Many people develop a personal connection and affection for turtles. Their gentle nature, unique appearance, and intriguing behaviors make them beloved creatures. World Turtle Day allows us to express our love for these animals and to take steps to ensure their well-being.
  7. Collective Action: World Turtle Day brings together individuals, organizations, and communities worldwide who share a common passion for turtle conservation. By celebrating this day collectively, we can amplify our efforts and make a greater impact in raising awareness, promoting responsible practices, and supporting conservation initiatives.

In summary, we love and celebrate World Turtle Day because turtles are fascinating, vital for ecosystems, culturally significant, and facing conservation challenges. By coming together on this day, we can appreciate their beauty, raise awareness about their conservation needs, and take action to protect them for future generations.

Leave A Reply