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Baby Turtles Released As Part Of Murray Tracking Program

Blog Post - Baby Turtles Released As Part Of Murray Tracking Program

In November 2018 a small group of residents from the Riverglades community in SA assisted Claudia Sontori, a PhD student from the University of Western Sydney, to collect turtle eggs from six different mother turtles.  They successfully collected over 150 eggs which were then carefully transported to Sydney for incubation and then brought back to SA to be hatched in January 2019. After the turtles had hatched, a disparate band of approximately 20 residents, along with media representatives from the ABC and Murray Valley Standard, were on hand to take part in the release of approximately 100 Murray River Short neck turtle hatchlings. 

As part of Claudia's research (picture above with Riverglades residents) some of the hatchlings were fitted with transmitters that enable the turtles to be tracked for approximately 2-3 weeks until the batteries in the tracking devices die. Preliminary findings show that the baby turtles are keen swimmers having swum much further than anticipated (one end of the swamp to the other) in just one day. We’re guessing there must be a suitable area for the hatchlings for the majority of them to have all gone to the same area.

Talking to some of the residents of the Riverglades area, they were concerned that there didn’t seem to be as many nests in the area over this last breeding season compared to the 2017/18 summer where there had been approx. 100 nests within the Riverglades wetlands. There is some debate regarding what might have caused this.  Did the weather have something to do with it? the deaths of mother turtles or some other reason?

Turtles prefer to lay their eggs during or shortly after a good rain and 2018 did not bring well-timed rain that would suit the nesting turtles. Additionally, even though Riverglades can be considered a built-up residential area there are still foxes present that attack the turtles or their nests. One resident found a turtle nest that had been partially attacked. She covered it, hoping to protect the remaining eggs which were still in the nest. 

You can help FNPW save the Murray River Turtles by making a donation to our Threatened Species appeal.


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