Turtle species threatened

TOMORROW is Australian Freshwater Turtle Day, which will be celebrated nationally for the second time. The day marks the end of the winter dormancy period for turtles as well as the start of the summer breeding season and aims to highlight the plight of our turtles.

It‘s a way of encouraging Australians to appreciate the threats to freshwater turtles and their habitat, and to remind us of their importance as environmental indicators.

Just like frogs, turtles are sensitive to changes within their aquatic habitats. More than 30 per cent are threatened by habitat loss, habitat degradation, pollution, salinity and predation, particularly by foxes and pigs.

“All of these threats are related to human activities in one way or another and this serves as a reminder that we all need to be mindful of our own behaviours and their effects on the environment” Craig Latta of the Australian Freshwater Turtle Forum said.

“How many people would consider that flicking a cigarette butt into the street could end up killing a freshwater turtle?

“All it takes is storm water run-off to enter a freshwater environment and nicotine is incredibly toxic to turtles,” Mr Latta said.

He and his wife Gabrielle will release some captive-bred, endangered Mary River Turtles into suitable habitat in the Mary River to mark this special day.

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