The do’s and don’ts this nesting season

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With the temperature rising and nesting season upon us, southwestern snake-necked turtles are on the move.

To ensure the safety of this species, a Murdoch University turtle ecologist addresses how the local community can help protect local turtles during peak nesting season.

In a bid to reduce mortality, the Western Australian public is being asked to keep their eyes peeled and slow down around southwest lakes and wetland areas during the migration and nesting period of the southwestern snake-necked turtle (Chelodina oblonga – prev. C. colliei).

The species, found across Perth’s metropolitan and Western Australia’s South West, is currently listed as near-threatened due to habitat loss, being hit by cars and predation by foxes, ravens, dogs, and other bird species.

Dr Anthony Santoro, Harry Butler Institute’s turtle ecologist and post-doctoral researcher said the impact of predation and being killed by cars are major threats, on top of environmental problems including lakes becoming drier for longer.

He advised the community has a part to ensure the safety of the semi-aquatic, native turtles — currently in peak nesting season until early November.

“During this vital time female turtles will be on the go to get to their nesting grounds to lay eggs.”

We can all do our bit to help our local turtles survive which can be anything from ensuring dogs are on leads to prevent unwanted attacks on females and nests, to staying vigilant and slowing down when driving around wetlands.”

“When you come across a turtle crossing the road we recommend stopping and waiting for it to cross – there is no need to get out of the car and pick them up,” he said.

“Females will typically be on the move on warmer days before, during, or after rainfall.”

Dr Santoro advised if an injured turtle is found, it’s best to contact WA Wildlife to get a recommendation.

The community is also encouraged to report sightings of turtles on the move through the TurtleSAT app – a measure that will go towards future conservation management action that could save hundreds of turtles per year.

The app has been designed for quick entry where the user can record turtle observations, from hatchlings to adults, both alive and dead, as well as where nests are both intact and destroyed,” advised Dr Santoro.

In 2019, the City of Cockburn, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), WA Wildlife, the Wetlands Centre Cockburn and the turtle ecology scientists at Murdoch University teamed up and co-created a Turtle Tracking program that involves dedicated volunteers monitoring female turtles and their nests.

Results show that over the last three years the program has successfully saved over 100 female turtles and nests at Bibra Lake.

Earlier this year Lotterywest granted the South West Corridor Development Fund Inc $131,000 to roll out the Turtle Tracker program across other local Western Australian governments in conjunction with Harry Butler Institute researchers.

To date 11 local governments including Bunbury, Kwinana, Cockburn, Melville, Claremont, Bayswater, Canning, Belmont, Stirling, Joondalup and Wanneroo have joined forces to assist.

The three-year project has seen the Saving our Snake Necked Turtle (SOSNT) project team deliver 14 free turtle information sessions to date.

Interested community members can assist with turtle conservation efforts by downloading and using TurtleSAT and visiting the Saving Our Snake-necked Turtle Facebook page for more information.

This research supports United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15.

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Posted on:

11 Oct 2022


Health, Science, Research

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