New Jersey wildlife authorities are calling out to the public to help solve the mystery of mysterious lesions showing up on northern redbelly turtles found in the southern part of the region.
The officials posted a photo on social media showcasing the appearance of dark, bubble splotches on the underside of the animal's shell.
An unknown mark
First observations of the phenomenon started in the summer of 2019 in several different ponds in Salem County, according to a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Larry Hajna.
Authorities do not know if the lesions are showing up again on turtles this year, as reported by Fox News, because of the hampered surveillance and monitoring of wildlife animals due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the cooler spring.
"It was there last year, could be back this year," said Hajna. He also added that authorities have no idea regarding the source of the occurrence.
The mystery has led experts to ask the public to figure out the source of lesions by locating any additional examples showing up elsewhere. Utilizing a broader area of detection, it can also be observed if the phenomenon is isolated to the ones in Salem or if it experienced elsewhere.
The public is asked by the NJDEP that if any sightings of the lesions occur on a redbelly turtle or any other species, to provide the location and the total number of animals with the case along with any additional significant information that may be observed which include abnormal behavior, conditions of the environment, or its neighboring creatures.
According to Trevino, redbelly turtles size up to be between 10 to 16 inches, which garners them the title of largest basking turtle in the region, as stated by the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife's site.
Fitting of its name, this species of turtles has a red-colored underbelly and a dark-colored shell when viewed from the top.
According to experts, redbelly turtles commonly reside around pools, lakes, and other small bodies of water, and they have increased activity between March and October.
Turtles are making a comeback
Another species of turtle, the royal turtle, is expected to make a comeback as Cambodian conservationists celebrate the hatching of the eggs of the species in recent months that show higher numbers than the last three years combined.
The success is brought about by a preservation drive as well as a halt on sand-dredging. Recently, about 23 eggs of the species have hatched in southwestern Koh Kong province. The province is the only region in Cambodia where the species is located along with a river beach that has been deprived of nests for 13 years, as reported by The Jakarta Post.
The hatching of nearly half of the 51 eggs raises the chances of survival of the species. The redbelly turtle was once Cambodia's national reptile and, up until recently, was believed to have gone extinct 20 years ago.
"With ongoing support and cooperation, we are hopeful that the number of turtles will continue to increase in the coming years," said the country program director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Ken Sereyrotha.