Unlike your usual turtle which has the ability to swim, gopher tortoise are something else. This turtle species is perhaps the only one amongst several other species in the world that cannot swim.
In the previous month, the FWC or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission got reports that there are good Samaritans who made an attempt of saving these poor tortoises when they found them and hence released them into the ocean unknowingly. It was unknown to them that the tortoise would drown since they can easily drown when put in water.
According to the FWC, what caused the confusion among the visitors in the beaches was that gopher tortoises nest in dunes, which is also a place where sea turtles nest.
The wildlife commission explained a way to differentiate between the species by observing their limbs. A gopher tortoise has toes with claws on each toe, while sea turtles have flippers with only one or two claws on each foreflipper. People can easily make out these differences without having to touch the turtles.
Gopher tortoise is included among a list of five species of sea turtles in the area, all of which are under the protection of law, either endangered or threatened and managed under the Endangered Species Act plus under Florida Statutes.
The FWC added that that if you see any of the tortoises in need of help, do not attempt to save them but instead call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or call #FWC or *FWC on your cell phone.