Japan is already one of the safest countries in the world for humans, and now it seems it’s about to get a lot safer for turtles too…

The West Japan Railway Company and Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe have teamed up to make trains a whole lot safer for the slower, smaller, more-reptilian local population: the turtles.

The Suma Aqualife Park is a giant aquarium/beach in Kobe that attracts plenty of tourists and families, most of whom get there by train. However, due to the park’s proximity to the ocean, every year several turtles get stuck in the train tracks and cause delays, malfunctions, or even damage to the trains themselves.

The most common way for the turtles to get stuck is when they try crawling over the railroad tracks and become trapped between the two high metallic rails. Since they can’t climb out, they’re forced to follow along the track, until eventually they either get run over by a train or get stuck in a part of the rail-switching mechanism. The switch would crush the turtle at some point, typically getting damaged in the process and forcing trains to stop until it was fixed.

So in order to keep both train-riding humans and rail-stuck turtles happy, Japan Railways has implemented this solution: creating escape ditches for the turtles along the railroad. Here’s a photo of it in action:

Left: What used to happen with turtles getting stuck in the rail switch.
Right: Now with the turtles have a nice, easy escape route under the track.

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This new turtle escape route has been implemented since April this year, and from then to August there were 10 turtles observed making use of them to leave the tracks. That means that in addition to 10 turtle lives saved, potentially 10 accidents have been prevented, which is a pretty big deal in terms of time and money saved fixing up afterward.

Will this turtle-saving innovation be implemented around the world in other heavily reptile-populated areas? It would certainly be cause for turtles all over the world to shell-ebrate if so.

Source: Suma Aqualife Park
Featured/top image: Flickr/Taro Taylor