Despite what a certain cartoon about nunchucks-wielding reptiles would have you think, turtles are no heroes in a half shell. In Japan, they were in need of a rescue themselves due to their unfortunate habit of getting caught between the railroad switches while trying to cross the tracks.
You can see below how that would be a problem:
Turtles were responsible for 13 train disruptions in Kyoto and Nara between 2002 and 2014, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
So the West Japan Railway Company and Suma Aqualife Park, Kobe’s municipal aquarium, teamed up to find a solution: passageways under the tracks that allow the creatures to cross without being turned into turtle soup by a passing train or causing travel delays.
“The system prevents turtles from getting into accidents and avoids causing trouble for our passengers. We hope to continue using it,” a JR West official told The Japan Times.
Researchers at the aquarium conducted experiments that found that when turtles try to cross over the train tracks, some of them inevitably fall into the spaces between the switches and can’t climb out. With no other choice, they then walk along between the rails, where some of them get jammed, according to a Suma Aqualife Park press release.
To give the turtles an alternate route, Japan Railway West built concrete ditches under the tracks close to the switch points. Railroad staff now also check the chutes every month for turtles and send any trapped creatures to the aquarium.
Naoki Kamezaki, head of Suma Aqualife Park, said that saving the turtles is a “refreshing feeling,” according to Huffington Post Japan.
The turtle pathways were built at two stations in Nara Prefecture in April and November, and since then, 10 of the slow-paced critters have been saved from death. Turtle power!
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