Bellingen citizen scientists unite to save the Bellinger River snapping turtle

In 2015, a disease wiped out 90% of the Bellinger River snapping turtle population.

Bellinger River snapping turtle (Myuchelys georgesi)

Saving our Species stepped in to protect the turtle and established a captive breeding program with Taronga Zoo and Symbio Wildlife Park, providing a lifeline for the species.

Following a successful breeding program, a number of healthy turtles have been released into the river, but our scientists now need further help to regularly monitor conditions in the Bellinger River.

The Bellingen Riverwatch citizen science project brings together community members and scientists who are all working towards one goal – to help the critically endangered turtle survive in the wild. The Riverwatchers are collecting data and monitoring water quality at 27 sites across the Bellinger River catchment, to better understand the health of the river and the impact this has on wildlife.

45 volunteers and 3 schools in the area are testing key elements in the river, including water and air temperature and phosphate and dissolved oxygen levels, which can impact aquatic life. Through the project, the citizen scientists are actively learning more about the turtle, the river and how to interpret the data they're capturing.

The initiative is a partnership between OzGreen and Saving our Species and 9 other partners.

Get involved

Find out more information about the project or sign up to join the Riverwatchers.

Bellingen Riverwatch

Video footage courtesy of Brett Vercoe and And The Trees Photography.