Helping to save vulnerable turtles

The Saving Our Snake-Necked Turtles project has expanded to now cover 30 wetlands across 21 local government areas between Joondalup and Albany. 

Sixteen wetlands have been added to the fourteen already monitored by Murdoch University Harry Butler Institute scientists working to protect turtle populations from extinction. 

The southwestern snake-necked turtle (Chelodina oblonga) lives across the Perth metropolitan and the south-west regions, but population numbers appear to be in decline due to threats including roads, ravens and foxes. 

“Our project aims to train citizen scientists to track and help nesting turtles across the entire range of the species, so expanding to include these new local government areas has been a really important step,” Project Manager and Murdoch University Research Fellow Dr Anthony Santoro said. 

Data collected by volunteer Turtle Trackers is building a clearer picture of the turtle populations, providing essential insights into the way they use wetlands. 

In July and August Dr Santoro delivered information and Turtle Tracker training sessions for participating councils. These sessions, attended by more than 500 citizen scientists, taught participants about the turtle’s biology and threats to survival. 

The 322 citizen scientists who completed Turtle Tracker training gained skills to monitor and protect female turtles and their nests.  

“Every female that safely returns to the water after nesting can nest every year for the decades of her life, and every nest protected by a Turtle Tracker can result in up to 15 new turtle hatchlings added to the population,” Dr Santoro said. 

What can you do to help snake-necked turtles? 

Even if you aren’t a trained Turtle Tracker you can log turtle sightings on the TurtleSATapp, and you could ask your local council to join the program if they are not already a partner.