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RAISED $ - OUR GOAL $500,000

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Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus)

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OUR CONSERVATION STATUS
  • National: Endangered
  • State: Endangered (QLD)
HOW MANY OF US ARE THERE?

< 1,000 individuals

WHERE DO WE LIVE?

The Mary River Turtle is endemic to the Mary River in south-eastern Queensland. Populations are known to occur in major tributaries and the main channel of the Mary River including Yabba and Tinana Creeks, Gunalda, Miva and Tiaro.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Mary River Turtle is dark brown, rusty red-brown to almost black above, with a greyish underbody, a broadly oval shell with a median notch. The lower half of the shell may be cream to yellow, the skin of the inguinal areas pinkish-white, and the dorsal skin grey, suffused with pink on the transverse lamellae scales. Females grow to 34 cm long, and males to 42 cm long. It has large hind feet, and is a fast swimmer.

OUR HABITAT

The Mary River flows for around 250 km from its source in the Conondale Range to the sea. Like other turtles with cloacal respiration (structures like gills with which it can obtain some oxygen from the water), the Mary River Turtle occurs in flowing, well-oxygenated sections of streams. Its habitat consists of riffles and shallow stretches alternating with deeper, flowing pools. The species can occur in depths ranging from less than a metre to more than 5m. Adults are usually found in areas with underwater shelter, such as sparse to dense macrophyte cover, submerged logs and rock crevices. They like to bask on logs and rocks.

Adult Mary River Tortoises are mainly herbivorous, but eat some animal matter. Aquatic plants make up 79% of the diet by weight.

FAMILY LIFE

The Mary River Turtle takes an exceptionally long time to reach maturity. The projected age at maturity is around 25 years for females and 30 years for males.

Nesting occurs at night on a small number of sparsely vegetated sandy banks when it has recently rained, possibly because moist sand is necessary to dig nests. Females leave the water, test the firmness of the sand, and then return to the water on nights before they dig the nest.

Each female lays one clutch of 12 to 25 eggs in a season. Females begin laying in mid October and continue throughout November. Natural incubation periods are around 50 days. Hatchlings emerge throughout December and until February.

THREATS TO OUR SURVIVAL
  • Predation and lack of recruitment
  • Increased number of dams and weirs – leading to decline in water quality and food availability
  • Soil erosion and water pollution

Mary River Turtles love & need:

Eucalyptus

Eucalypts are a defining feature of Australia. They are the dominant tree of the developed areas of the country, although only sparsely represented in the driest regions. There are over 800 species which have adapted to nearly every environment. READ MORE

Melicytus

Found in South Australia in the lower Flinders Ranges and across the Mount Lofty Ranges. A small population occurs around Naracoorte. Also found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. A dense branching shrub to 2m tall with few succulent lance-shaped leaves and long spines. READ MORE

Syzygium

There are 52 species of Syzygium found in Australia and are generally known as lillipillies or brush cherries. Most species are evergreen trees and shrubs. Several species are grown as ornamental plants for their attractive glossy foliage, and a few produce edible fruit that are eaten fresh or used in jams and jellies. READ MORE