Keep eye out for turtles as they venture out of water to nest

This time of year is hazardous for our hard-shelled reptile friends as they venture outside the safety of the water to nest.

Turtles provide a vital service by helping keep the river and wetlands clean, and are an important part of the river ecosystem, according to Natural Resources’ Courtney Monk.

Natural Resources SA Murray Darling Basin (SAMDB) is looking for people who can collect data on turtles. Wetlands project officer Courtney Monk said turtles begin nesting after November rains.

“The three species of River Murray turtles (long neck, short neck and broad shell) are considered under threat with research showing that the population declined significantly during the Millennium Drought and that the numbers of mature breeding animals remains low ten years later,” Ms Monk said.

“It is thought that the main threat to the turtle population is predation by foxes on eggs and nesting females. Road fatalities are also a factor, particularly female turtles who are looking for nesting sites.

“There are other causes contributing to turtle decline – deaths in fish traps, from hook and line fishing, habitat changes and water salinity have all put pressure on turtle population levels.”

She urged people to keep a look-out near water for any turtle signs such as nests, eggs, live or dead turtles.

Record the date, location, and species, and take a photo if possible.

Data submitted through the TurtleSAT app gives information to scientists and helps answer questions like where turtles live, how far they travel, and reasons for decline in numbers from region to region.