Saint Augustine Beach, FL

Some scientists think turtles are the key to de-aging treatments for humans.

Matthew C. Woodruff

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Sea Turtle(Stock-free.org)

July 14th of this year dawned sunny and warm. The perfect day for the students and technicians from the Sea Turtle Hospital at UF’s Whitney Labs in St. Augustine Beach, Fl. to release two now healthy former patients, Artichoke and Granny Smith.

Opened in 2015, the Sea Turtle Hospital provides rehabilitation, education, and research for sea turtle conservation. My family and I were lucky enough to have a private behind the scenes tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Labs earlier this year and it was an experience I will never forget. The Sea Turtle Biologist leading the tour was obviously very passionate about the work she was doing and upon seeing the sick turtles, I understood why. Each of us was able to feed a sea turtle and had the option of adopting one of them, and being invited to its release as well. Tours are open for booking daily.

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Sea Turtle at Whitney Labs(Matthew Woodruff)

Turtles are one of the great mysteries of our world. Leftovers from the age of the dinosaur, these cold-blooded air breathers can stay submerged for hours at a time while asleep. The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature of the sand the eggs nest in. And, according to BBC Earth, butterflies will drink the tears of turtles to provide necessary sodium in their diet. Read that line again, butterflies drink the tears of turtles. The oldest turtle known named Johnathan, is 190 years old. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2022/1/190-year-old-jonathan-becomes-worlds-oldest-tortoise-ever-688683

Two new studies published last month in the journal Science https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abm0151 found that turtles have slow rates of aging. According to the study's authors, In captivity, without the stress of finding food and avoiding predators, scientists now believe that some turtles may not age at all. Ecologist David Miller, one of the study’s authors states in the study that there are consistent patterns in turtles, showing they live a long time, and they age really slowly.

Will we be able to understand and harness our friend’s the turtles’ anti-aging powers for the benefit of humankind?

According to Miller’s co-author Biologist Beth Reinke, the biology of turtles and tortoises could help unlock anti-senescence secrets for humans, but more research is needed before we get there.

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Matthew is a free-lance journalist, and an internationally award-winning author best known for Dark Humor/Lite Horror/Supernatural short stories. He is a lover of the unusual, travel, cats and people's souls. Matthew is based in Florida, USA.

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