Endangered Manning River turtle hatchlings have been spotted in the wild for the first time since surveying for the freshwater species began in 2019! Keep reading to learn about these special creatures.
Image: Hunter Local Land Services
What Is The Manning River Turtle?
This striking freshwater turtle is recognised by its distinct colouring. The Manning River turtle is known for its yellow markings on the underside of its shell and tail, as well as a clear yellow stripe from the jaw down to the neck of the shell.
This species is endangered and has now been spotted in NSW for the first time since 2019. "They are absolutely beautiful, tiny turtles … about the size of a 20-cent piece with a beautiful distinct pattern on their back," Hunter Local Land Services (HLLS) Rye Gollan said. "It's pretty special to find them."
On a mission to find their refuge habitat and nesting areas, HLLS and the MidCoast Council have spent four years surveying for the turtle species.
Image: Hunter Local Land Services
This Discovery Helps Fill The Data Gap
Where do these turtles live? The Manning River turtle is found only on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, especially the middle and upper stretches of the Manning River catchment area. They are found in relatively shallow, clear, continuously fast-flowing rivers with rocky and sandy substrates.
In recent years the Manning River helmeted turtle has seen a significant decline in numbers, as they face a range of threats, including predation, illegal poaching, and habitat degradation.
But the great news is that researchers say the tiny hatchlings provide an insight into the early life stages of the species, as well as their nesting and breeding habits. This means that the discovery will guide the researchers future management to best protect the turtles habitat and ensure future survival!
Image: Aussie Ark
World’s First Manning River Turtles Release Into The Wild!
A Manning River turtle captive breeding program is also successfully protecting the species, formed by a conservation organisation ‘Aussie Ark’ in partnership with other conservation groups!
Australian freshwater turtles live in a fragile and niche environment. In the case of the Manning River turtle, they require clean, flowing substantial bodies of water to thrive. These groups are establishing a strong and healthy insurance population, which is providing protection for the species well into the future!
Last October, conservationists released 10 endangered Manning River turtles back into the wild. We think this is wonderful news! Mr. Gollan also said their teams will continue surveying the Manning River catchment for turtles, with residents also encouraged to report any sightings.
It’s so heart-warming to hear that this hatchling has been discovered and that there are also effective programs underway to protect the species!
If you want to get involved, it’s not all up to the scientists, you can help too! Conservationists are also saying that they need our help to broaden their knowledge. If you are out on creeks or rivers, keep an eye out for evidence of turtles and record that information, any data can be really valuable to them!
You can also help create a future for the Manning River turtle species by donating to Aussie Ark.
If you love reading about unique wildlife discoveries and conservation efforts around the world, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below!