Hello, turtle friend.
The months-old blob seen above is an Asian giant softshell turtle. Scientists long thought this species was extinct in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River — until they discovered some stragglers in the early 2000s.
Since then, conservation groups have worked with local communities and officials to boost the wild population of these endangered turtles. A team recently released 150 hatchlings back into their natural habitat, bringing the running total to more than 7,700 baby turtles in the past 10 years.
Huge swaths of the turtle’s habitat in southeast Asia have disappeared due to urban and industrial development along the Mekong River, which flows more than 3,000 miles from China to Vietnam. The sand where turtles breed is routinely hauled away for use in construction projects, while fishing nets scoop up hatchlings. Poachers also take turtles and their eggs to sell for food.
“The species has quite a wide…