During Monday’s meeting of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, Mary Beth Magee, a local writer, approached the board to request naming a map turtle that habitats in the Pearl River as the “county reptile”.
Magee told the board that she was doing research in 2015 on the currents of the Pearl River because her fiction writing takes place in Pearl River County, when she came across some very interesting information.
Magee said she found a press release from 2010 that detailed the discovery of the Peal River map turtle, also known as Graptemys pearlensis. Magee pointed out that the United States Geological Survey identified it as a separate species only found in the Pearl River Basin and it tributaries and for a long time it was confused with the Pascagoula map turtle.
“Well, we’ve got our own turtle,” Magee told the board.
Local writer Mary Beth Magee explaining the background on the Pearl River map turtle
The turtle, according to Magee, is unfortunately endangered, but not as a species.
Magee stated, “It’s biggest enemy (of the Pearl River map turtle) is the fact that nobody knows about it. It’s anonymous. The United States has not recognized it as endangered species although the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recognized it as endangered.”
Mississippi has 47 animal species federally protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but the Pearl River map turtle is not one of them at this time. That’s part of the mission of Magee and she feels the Board of Supervisors can give her the needed support to move toward getting the E.S.A. to recognized the Pearl River map turtle.
Magee asked the board to name the turtle species as the county reptile in hopes of giving her a forum to bring attention to the turtle and get more people to notice it and further protect this map turtle species from damage.
The board told her that they were in support of her effort and wanted to take her request under advisement to allow board attorney Joe Montgomery to review what action the board might be able to take on the matter.
The Pearl River map turtle is no larger than small dinner plate and sports an unbroken black line down its back. Females are much larger than males, measuring between 6 and 11 inches as adults. Males grow to a comparatively puny 4 to 6 inches according to livescience.com website.
Click here to view a picture of the Pearl River map turtle