George L. Heinrich, biologist, educator, executive director of the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust

by | Sep 23, 2020

George L. Heinrich—a field biologist and environmental educator specializing in Florida reptiles; he also serves as the Executive Director of the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust—recounts growing up in New England, a childhood that involved spending hours each day outside, poking around in the woods, looking for salamanders and other critters, and tending to his pet box turtle, followed by a spotted turtle. Heinrich recalls making regular visits to the zoo as a kid, and later working at the Memphis Zoo. So there was already a lengthy storyline of Heinrich’s strong interest in animals (very much including turtles) by the time he graduated from college, and moved to Florida. Fast forwarding, Heinrich describes The Big Turtle Year, an initiative he conceived, and the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust launched, in 2017. Modeled after the birding competition known as The Big Year—in both cases, the objective is for participants to see and identify as many species as possible in a calendar year—The Big Turtle Year took Heinrich across the country, he recalls, ultimately seeing 57 species. The highlight of that journey, he says, was seeing mud turtles, including the Sonoyta mud turtle. In other parts of the conversation, he touched on some turtles commonly found in Florida that facing significant challenges, including the diamondback terrapin, which is imperiled by often becoming ensnared in crab traps, as well as contending with habitat loss, and gopher tortoise, which is also experiencing both habitat loss and degradation. Over the course of interview, Heinrich fields a number of turtle-oriented questions and comments from listeners. (,,,

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Ray Allyn, producer and co-host of “Cats on Film Pod,” a new podcast in which Allyn and her feline sidekick, Skipper, review movies that feature cats, framing their assessments chiefly around the feline-ness of the kitties, and the humane-ness of the humans. She discusses the impetus for the podcast, and how she arrived at the format, including why most of these brightly-produced episodes run five minutes or under. Allyn notes she wears all the hats within the “Cats on Film Pod” operation, including handling all graphic design. (,

COMEDY CORNER:  Nick Kroll’s “Cats vs. Dogs” (portion)     (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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