A late start to 2020 for one of the Manning River's oldest residents
Believe it or not, in the Manning River north of Newcastle there are a few residents that have completely slept through the pandemic. But they are about to wake up for summer, and they need our help.
The Manning River helmeted turtle, Myuchelys purvisi, is an endangered freshwater species that lives in the upper and middle Manning River. The species is related to the critically endangered Bellinger River Turtle and plays a crucial part in the health of the river ecosystem.
"These little turtles will have been in brumation for long periods in the last few months, which is a hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals use in the winter" explains Andrew Steed, Threatened Species Officer.
"Once the temperature starts to exceed 15 degrees Celsius regularly, the turtles will start to forage again over summer, leading in to mating season in autumn."
To celebrate these turtles emerging from brumation, the Manning River Turtle Conservation Group, Mid Coast Council, and the NSW Government's Saving our Species program guided a crafty day of felting on 12 September, at the Manning Regional Art Gallery. Artist Gemma Cross launched the #mrturtleinthewild campaign, encouraging people to create felt turtles and snap pictures of them 'out and about' on the Manning River. The campaign helps raise the profile of the Manning River helmeted turtle and engage people in the conservation of this unique animal.
These turtles seem to be in dramatic decline, due to predation from foxes and pigs, as well as declines in habitat quality. That's where Saving our Species comes in. Saving our Species scientists are doing surveys to determine how many turtles are in the wild, and where they can be found. An insurance population is being established by the team at Aussie Ark and rescued hatchlings will be released back into the wild soon.
Everyone can help this amazing species by getting involved with citizen science projects and reporting sightings of invasive species like foxes.
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