Since 2018 FNPW has been working closely with Ricky Spencer from Western Sydney University to coordinate school engagement in the 1 Million Turtle Project. The community conservation program aims to release more than one million turtles throughout South-Eastern Australia each year, through the creation of protected habitats and a coordinated breeding and harvesting program.
Below is the recording of the 1 Million Turtles: Turtle Talk webinar that was hosted by the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife (FNPW) on December 16th, 2021.
The webinar speakers are Ricky Spencer, and Nathan Cutter from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, and the talk covers a range of information about Australian freshwater turtles.
For the full details go to https://fnpw.org.au/news/latest-news/turtle-talk/
Please also see below for further resources and links:
- The 1 Million Turtles project website: https://1millionturtles.com/
- TurtleSAT: https://turtlesat.org.au/turtlesat/
- Information on non-native pest animals in NSW (including the Red-eared slider turtles), including a link to report detections: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/vertebrate-pests/nia
- The Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife website: https://fnpw.org.au/
- The Backyard Buddies website: https://backyardbuddies.org.au/
- The Wildlife Heroes Project website: https://wildlifeheroes.org.au/
Included below arethe responses to a couple of questions in the Q&A box that were replied to by Ricky during the talk by typing (so can’t be heard in the recording), or we ran out of time to answer.
Q1: If I pick up a turtle from the road is it okay to relocate it to my farm dam if it’s several km away?
A1: Best just to move to the side of the road it was heading. The buggers can be really stubborn and no matter where you put them they will get out and head back to where they were going.
Q2: At FAWNA we are seeing more snake-necked turtle motor vehicle encounters than we remember. Despite La Nina and good rainfall we wonder why they are crossing roads and getting harmed more than normal. Any ideas?
A2: It is turtle nesting season at the moment, and with rain so constant this season, they are nesting more regularly. Previous years it might only be when there were storms. (Turtles often cross roads when heading to nesting sites)
Q3: Has there been any studies or info captured on how floods and torrential rain is impacting turtles relocating?
A3 Ricky: Rains and floods aid turtle movement. Rains also trigger nesting in Spring. Eastern Long Necks make substantial terrestrial movements and this is also usually triggered by a heavy downpour.
A3 Nathan: Although it was not part of the NSW DPI trial work to measure the effect of water surge events, anecdotally speaking – one of the sites NSW DPI has worked at is an isolated oxbow lake. However, the oxbow is subject to water surges during heavy rain events. We have noticed that after water surge events, significantly more red-eared slider turtles are detected in the oxbow.
Q4: The other thing we have come across is in severe floods freshwater turtles displaced ending up on beaches and estuaries. What is your suggestions in regards to these turtles? sadly some have been released into saltwater.
A4 Ricky: Most freshwater turtles can’t tolerate long periods of saltwater. They should be placed in freshwater and relocated to the nearest freshwater dam or vet if required.
A4 Nathan: Although red-eared slider turtles are freshwater organisms, over the years, a number of them have been detected and removed from NSW coastal estuaries. There are papers that have been written discussing the ability of red-eared slider turtles to tolerate elevated salinity levels. Generally speaking, the ability of some non-native animals to adapt to a wide-range of environments adds to their overall success as an invasive species.