Tunnels built beneath railway tracks to save turtles


Editor's Picks

Turtles in Japan have been given their own special passageways under railway tracks to prevent them being crushed,

Not only is crossing the railway line hazardous for the turtles, but it leads to travel delays. They have a habit of becoming caught in the spaces between the railroad switches from which they are unable to climb out. The turtles then have no option but to continue to walk between the rails, where they end up getting stuck at the junctions. When the points move, the turtles get crushed between them. As well as being very bad for the turtles, it’s also annoying for passengers, due to the disruption it causes.
The passageways were a joint project between the West Japan Railway Company and Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe, a tourist attraction that brings in thousands of visitors by train every year. Both park and railway are quite close to the ocean, and many turtles cross the tracks during the summer. 
The U-shaped shallow concrete ditches have been placed under the tracks near the switch points at two stations in Nara Prefecture. Railway staff check the ditches during their monthly track inspections, and any turtles that have fallen in are rescued and taken to the aquarium. Ten turtles have been saved from death since the installation.
"The system prevents turtles from getting into accidents and avoids causing trouble for our passengers. We hope to continue using it," said a Japan Railways official.
Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer. 
Don't forget PFK is also available in digital format. 
Click here for more information on the iPad or iPhone version.
Alternatively, click here for details of the Android version.