FC: Torpedo's Journey | A Threatened Animal Story | By Nicki Zelenak
1: Torpedo's Journey | by Nicki Zelenak | A Threatened Animal Story
2: There was a bog turtle that went by the name of Torpedo. Torpedo, along with his fellow bog turtles, was threatened and close to being endangered. Torpedo never actually understood what that meant until he experienced it for himself. | Introduction
3: Once upon a time...
4: Torpedo swam in the little swampy wetland he lived in with his fellow bog turtles as he did every day. If a passerby looked really closely at these turtles, they would see a kaleidoscope of dark brown and yellowish-orange marked shells. Upon even closer inspection, ridged plates on their shells and the intense color details on their bodies would be visible. Behind each eye, a red-orange or yellow spot would also be visible. These were the bog turtles.
5: Torpedo stopped swimming and looked around at his dwindling species and their wetland. He had been told by the oldest turtle in the group that the habitat was once a beautiful paradise for the turtles. It used to have the deep, gunky mud and soil that saved them from extreme temperatures and predators who wanted them for a snack. If only it were still like that...
6: In reality, the wetland was being destroyed, bit by bit. Chemicals flooded the marshy land and were slowly poisoning the turtles. Food was harder to find. Worst of all were the loud machines that shrunk the habitat.
7: Torpedo never actually thought it mattered that the wetland was shrinking, but his fellow turtles were terrified. Shaking away the thought, he swam over to the cattail plant that grew on the edge of the wetland. It was like his own little secret hiding place. | The little turtle was splashing around happily until a dark shadow crossed the cattail and Torpedo froze.
8: Over the top of the cattail plant, Torpedo saw a man in a black coat. He was searching through the wetland for something. His hand was getting closer. Torpedo wanted to call for help, but his family and friends were too far away to hear him.
9: Then the man's hand came close to the cattail plant and picked up Torpedo.
10: Torpedo could see no more once the man put him in a tiny black cage. | It was dark, cold, and full of hopelessness.
11: It felt like weeks since Torpedo had seen sunlight. When the case finally opened, the little bog turtle was in a completely different home. He was in an encased tank with dirty glass walls that revealed the black walls outside of his tank. In the center of the room was a black box connected to a thin board with little symbols on it. The machine was blinking and buzzing. Torpedo had heard rumors of a machine like this. The other turtles called them computers.
12: The man smiled evilly and went over to the machine. He took off his black coat and revealed a scarred face. On the computer, the man punched a couple of the symbols on the board and the screen showed the symbols.
13: Then the man walked back over to scared little Torpedo and said gleefully, "We already got a sale on you, little guy. Tomorrow you meet your new parents." He smiled crookedly. "The collector is very interested in you."
14: The next day came and sunlight filtered through a small shaded window and sent beams of light over the bog turtle. Scar-face, what Torpedo decided to call his captor, opened his cage and shoved a tiny buffet tin of seeds, berries, insects, slugs, worms, crayfish, frogs, snakes, snails, and carrion in. "Mealtime, little guy. Eat up. I want you to look nicely fed when my client comes." | After Torpedo finished eating, he froze with fear when a second man squeezed himself through the door and then slammed it shut. He was larger than Scar-face and had a black curly mustache. Torpedo named him Mr. Mustache.
15: "Where is it?" hissed Mr. Mustache. Torpedo's captor calmed him and led him to Torpedo's cage. "This?" spat Mr. Mustache. "This is the threatened animal?" | "I assure you, sir," whimpered Scar-face, "that bog turtles are without a doubt threatened." | "It doesn't look like much," Mr. Mustache huffed over his large stomach.
16: "Their habitats are being destroyed, good sir. Drained for agriculture. Not to mention all the pollution and well, um, questionable selling of the turtles, some might say illegally," Scar-face explained at length.
17: "But what's special about them?" asked Mr. Mustache. | Scar-face gasped. "What's special about them? Don't you know that these little guys can live up to 40 years, and on top of that, they are the smallest turtles in North America?" exclaimed Scar-face. "This little guy is young. He will grow to be about four inches and maybe four ounces."
18: Mr. Mustache stroked his overgrown facial hair. A twisted smile grew on his face. He opened his mouth to speak when Torpedo decided he could hear no more. The little turtle pushed his tank to the window and rammed the tank walls into the window glass. With a click, the window popped open and Torpedo's cage fell down... | and down...
19: and down...
20: into the arms of a little girl. She caught the case and looked at Torpedo curiously. Torpedo thought he had given up one dangerous fate for another until the little midnight black haired girl read a card attached to his cage. She turned to a woman standing next to her and said, "Mommy, this turtle is lost. Can we take him home?"
21: The women examined Torpedo and gasped. "A bog turtle? How did you get here, little fella? It says on your cage that you belong in Pennsylvania, not here. Come on, let's take you home."
22: That is how Torpedo found his way home and the woman started a bog turtle saving and restoration program. | She and her daughter made petitions to protect the bog turtles' habitats, encouraged the enforcement of the law that bog turtles can not be taken or sold, and taught people about the dangers of runoff water contaminants to the turtles. | And they lived happily ever after.
23: The threat of losing bog turtles is real and there are many ways a normal person can not only help the bog turtles, but the entire planet. You can use less water, recycle, and monitor what you throw away. If you limit chemical waste, it will prevent run-off water into wetlands. | Map of bog turtle habitats