(Above: The first of six turtle hatchlings that were given a head-start to life at Jerrabomberra Wetlands.)
Hello Spring! It’s baby animal season, and we’re thrilled to welcome this group of adorable siblings into the world. They hatched this morning with the rain after being dormant for almost a year.
Although we see Eastern Long-necked Turtles around the Wetlands, the truth is most of these animals are older in age. When eggs are laid by mums during rainy summer days, foxes sniff them out almost immediately and dig them up for lunch. This is happening all across Australia – turtles are in real trouble.
To combat this problem here in the ACT – the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and ACT Parks have teamed up with Researcher Ricky Spencer from the University of Western Sydney and Bruno Ferronato from Ginninderra Waterwatch. They plan to give turtles a ‘head-start’ by sourcing hatchlings from the safe-haven of Mulligans Flat and releasing them at Jerrabomberra Wetlands.
Once they are here, researchers and volunteers will track their movements and see how they go. This project is exciting for turtles all over Canberra – if they succeed at Jerrabomberra Wetlands, we may be able to reintroduce them to other wetlands.
The babies you see here were given a ‘head-start’ at Jerrabomberra Wetlands. Last Spring staff and volunteers spent hours in the rain – night and day – waiting for female turtles to clamber out of Kelly’s Swamp and lay their eggs. Once the mothers were on their way, the nest sites would be covered with a metal grate to stop foxes from getting inside.
In the following Autumn and Spring the nesting sites were checked after heavy periods of rain (when turtles hatch and make their way to water). This morning Ranger Michael Maconachie was pleasantly surprised by a nest of hatchlings ready to give the next generation of Eastern Turtles a fighting chance of survival. What a way to celebrate Threatened Species Day!
Our initial studies of turtle populations at Jerrabomberra Wetlands, as well as advice on our baby turtle hatchlings and protective grids, was led by Bruno Ferronato in conjunction with the University of Canberra. We are so grateful for his expertise and ongoing contribution.