Invasive species are huge problem in today’s society. They can cause massive ecological and economic damage. Humans are responsible for carrying many species, whether voluntarily or involuntarily from one location to another. If the conditions are right then the species being transferred can thrive and cause problems to the new environment.
Officials have spotted two Chinese soft-shelled turtles just South of Boston. This species of turtle is normally raised in Asia for food but is sold in other parts of the world. Scientists from the New England Aquarium suspect these turtles were bought and released instead of being used as food. While this may seem like a nice gesture, actions like this can have bad consequences.
Because the two turtles were spotted on separate occasions, experts are very concerned. If there are several turtles that have been released, they could get established and have a very damaging effect on the ecosystem there. The Chinese soft-shelled turtle is larger than any other predator in the area they were found in and according to Nigella Hillgarth of the New England Aquarium, the native species are not adapted to a predator this size. Since the soft-shelled turtle eats large quantities of fish and mussels, these animals and the animals that rely on them for food could be in big trouble. In this ecosystem it probably wouldn’t have any predators so there could be nothing slowing down their multiplication.
The Chinese soft-shelled turtle has already become established in the Philippines as an invasive species. There, is has had significant effects on the native fish which in turn has damaged the Philippine fishing industry.
These turtles are usually raised on farms in China to be eaten. This may have been the source of these turtles in America.
It is very important to realize that releasing captured animals back into the wild may not always be the right thing to do. When non-native species are released, they have the potential to become invasive and have profound consequences in the new area.