1 Million Turtles Community Conservation Program
Why is Conservation Never Easy?! Our ecosystems are so very complicated to manage once they have been altered. While we are working to protect nests and get more hatchlings back into our waterways, what happens to them once they are in the water? This is what a number of research projects are trying to find out.
The work of Tiaro Landcare to protect many Mary River Turtle nests and their collaboration with researchers from Charles Darwin University has led to approximately 10,000 hatchlings entering the river. However, a population study found very few have reached maturity i.e. about 20 years of age. Research is now looking into whether this high mortality of immature turtles is due to the presence of large predatory native catfish that seem to have thrived since the introduction of a tidal barrage.
Tiaro and District Landcare is also working with the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee to help hatchlings upstream of Gympie, where fork-tailed catfish numbers are lower, and hopefully they will have a greater chance of making it to breeding age. Read more of the story here: Researchers probe mass deaths of 'bum-breathing' Mary River turtle babies - ABC News
The turtle research team from La Trobe University are also looking at hatchling survivorship, this time in the Murray River. They have marked over 100 hatchlings ready for release. They will set nets each year over the next few years to see how many are able to be recaptured, which will give an idea of how young turtles are faring in this river system.
Another La Trobe University student is using TurtleSAT and Atlas of Living Australia turtle data to create habitat suitability models for the three Murray River turtle species, that will take into account things like the altitude of the location. The model would ultimately allow you to look at a map to predict where we should find which species and where they should be in highest numbers, in places where we do not already have records. Big gaps in our current records are in the high country and the Darling River catchment in particular. In the former, we do not know how high turtles exist in the mountains, and in the latter, turtles should be present throughout the Darling but we have little data. The models will also be useful for predicting how turtle distributions might change as aquatic environments alter as a result of climate change.
Hatchling with tracker on shell (Photo credit: Dr James van Dyke)
Keen to play a part in understanding impacts of foxes on our turtles?
Click below to learn more about the nest predation survey.
Keen to start preparing for protecting turtle nests during the upcoming nesting season?
Click below to learn how to protect turtle nests.
Keen to discover turtle nesting spots in your local area but don't know where to start?
Check out our brand new nest prediction tool.