We are pleased to announce that our Mary River Turtle hatchlings, growing steadily and nurtured by the wonderful project team at Tiaro Landcare Group at the Mary River in Queensland, will shortly be ready for release this year. Added to this, the next round of Mary River Turtle eggs has recently hatched!
Last week, the FAME team was privileged to experience, via video-call, the turtles' February 'weigh-in' and meet the new hatchlings. Most of the youngsters had doubled their weight over the past two months. We hypothesise that this increase in size is likely to be associated with being a reptile and taking advantage of the warmer summer water temperatures. The hatchlings are weighed and measured every two months and undergo a health-check to keep track of their progress. This information is used to make any necessary adjustments to feeding regimes and husbandry methods.
Not so well-known is how best to raise a turtle in captivity so it is equipped, adapted and ready for its transition to life in the wild. This has been a major challenge for Tiaro Landcare Group. Fortunately, the hatchery site is located well above the Mary River’s flood level but still in close proximity to the river, thus enabling the turtles to be grown in a semi-natural environment. They are fed a varied diet including live crickets to help them become accustomed to hunting. When the turtles are eventually released back into the Mary River, they will be tagged with coded transmitters which will be regularly monitored. From this data, movement patterns and survivorship in the wild will be analysed.
This project has already achieved so much. FAME's funding has enabled a one-of-a-kind hatchery purpose-built for the Mary River Turtle to be designed and installed on the banks of the Mary River. Relocation of turtle nests to the hatchery has also been a successful method to protect the hatchlings and, based on these successes, we plan to use the same methods and equipment for future nesting seasons.
For more information on the Mary River Turtle project, visit the project page of the website.
Photos: courtesy Tiaro Landcare Group.