Environment SA News

Look out for nesting turtles

River Murray turtles need your help.

Look out for nesting turtles
A long neck turtle. Credit: Sam Hardy

And all you need to do is download an app to your phone so you can record any sightings of turtles or their nests.

November is the time when turtles start venturing out of the water to find nest sites.

Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin wetlands project officer Courtney Monk said turtles were an important part of the river ecosystem.

“Turtles provide a vital service by helping to keep the river and wetlands clean,” she said.

“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 10 years later.

“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 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.

“Everyone can join in monitoring by keeping a lookout near water for any turtle signs such as nests, eggs, live or dead turtles.”

Anyone living in or visiting the SAMDB region can download the TurtleSAT app, which collects data such as date, location and species, as well as a photo.

Scientists can use the information to learn more about where turtles live, how far they travel and what factors affect their numbers.

The free app is downloadable for smartphones from the Apple App Store, Google Play or the Windows store.

The TurtleSAT website also has a portal for recording observations, as well as information on turtle identification and maps of previous sightings.