FWC Gets Grant To Help Investigate Mysterious Turtle Deaths In St. Johns Watershed

Apr 25, 2019

The nonprofit Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida has announced they’re awarding a $30,000 grant to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for freshwater turtle disease research to investigate a rash of mysterious deaths.

Since March of 2018, about 300 sick or dead turtles in the St. Johns River watershed have been reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Before that, only 75 undiagnosed cases of dead freshwater turtles had been reported since 2006.

Researchers think a new virus may be the cause.

The grant, announced last week, is aimed at helping scientists better understand that virus and its reach in Florida.

“The recent deaths of freshwater turtles in the St. Johns River are alarming,” said Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida President and CEO Andrew Walker. “We are committed to finding the cause of the outbreak, as these turtles are an important member of the St. Johns River ecosystem.”

The grant money comes from the “Conserve Wildlife” specialty license plate fund managed by the Foundation.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.