1 Million Turtles
09 December 2022
With so much flooding and rain in south-eastern Australia it has been a very interesting 2022 Turtle Month. All the records and photos submitted to TurtleSAT from around the country have told us so much about what the turtles are up to and where they, and their nests, are most at threat. Thank you for all those submissions and to everyone who has helped a turtle to cross a road or protected a nest!
Nesting seems to be delayed and more sporadic in many areas and because of this we are extending the ‘blackout’ for the National Nest Predation Surveys with chicken eggs. The 1 Million Turtles team is very keen to collect more data on the impact of foxes on nests but please wait until January to run the survey.
Unusually - compared with other areas that have been reported in TurtleSAT - there has been a lot of nesting at Paiwalla Wetlands between Murray Bridge and Mannum. Wetland Habitats (Paiwalla) Association members and volunteers including the Summit Streams Venturer Scouts crew from Strathalbyn and Mount Barker have been trying very hard to catch the turtles nesting so they can protect the nests with mesh. They have managed to place mesh on a couple but unfortunately just about all the nests they have spotted have already been dug up by foxes and even by an echidna.
If you are wondering how the flooding might affect our freshwater turtles, it should actually have some very positive spin-offs for them. Floods provide extensive new habitat for turtles in the form of temporary wetlands. These will provide short-term booms in aquatic plants, waterbugs, tadpoles, and carrion (dead things) that the turtles eat. Our current adult turtles (and any babies that make it from nests laid above the flood level and away from foxes) should have a very good summer. More food will result in more eggs in future years. Some turtles might even 'double clutch', laying a second nest later this year.
In this unusually wet season, there is potential for the Murray short-necked and eastern long-necked turtles to continue nesting while the broad-shelled turtles will start nesting in autumn, so please continue to keep your eyes out for turtles leaving the water. If you’d like to make a difference by protecting nests there are some essential ethics training units and instructions on the 1 Million Turtles website.
During Turtle Month, we held the Turtle Month Kick-off Webinar and a recorded version is available to watch online. Locally, we gave presentations to the community at the Mount Barker Library and a Waikerie Rotary Club meeting. Popular displays were also set up by our Education team at Berri Visitor Centre, Renmark Paringa Library and Murray Bridge Library.
See the events section for information on how you can get involved with nest surveys over the summer, including the family event at Lake Bonney.