Save Australia’s Only Punk Haired Turtle!
‘Endangered’ in Queensland under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and nationally under the EPBC Act 1999 and recognised as endangered globally in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015–4. The endearing Mary River Turtle, found only in Queensland, with its distinctive green punk-rock hairstyle, two spikes under its chin and the ability to breathe through its genitals (sometimes for three days in a row) has undergone a greater than 95% decrease in population in the past 50 years, due to it being poached by the illegal exotic pet trade. In partnership with Tiaro & District Landcare Group and the Gubbi Gubbi people, we are trialling an innovative technique of increasing and improving their survival rates by head starting turtles in the Mary River. Around 30 turtles will be kept in captivity for 6, 12 and 18 months, then released into a transition zone to test the effectiveness of reducing in-river morbidity. This is similar to a fish farm concept which will enable the turtle’s survival in the short term to be more accurately monitored. The local Indigenous community, the Gubbi Gubbi will be trained, engaged as rangers and empowered to care for and protect their sacred totem once they are released.