Tags: mary | river | turtle | extinction

Mary River Turtle Extinction Feared, Australia Has No Protection Plan

Image: Mary River Turtle Extinction Feared, Australia Has No Protection Plan
(Australian Geographic via YouTube)

By    |   Friday, 13 April 2018 11:36 AM

The Mary River turtle is at risk of extinction in Australia, according to the Zoological Society of London Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered Reptiles list, but Australia has no national recovery plan to protect it, News.com reported.

The turtle is a native of Queensland and can only be found in the Mary River with green hair shaped similar to a Mohawk and the ability to breathe through its genitals, making it standout from most other turtles, News.com wrote.

"This strange turtle is one of several species of cloaca-breathing turtles, which breathe underwater using specialized glands in their reproductive organs," the EDGE description of the turtle read. "This allows individuals to remain submerged for up to 72 hours.

"Remarkably, this turtle was kept as a pet in Australia for more than 20 years before its formal description as a new species. This turtle is highly distinctive, both morphologically and evolutionarily. The only species in its genus, the Mary River turtle diverged from all other living species around 40 million years ago. In comparison, we split from our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, less than 10 million years ago."

EDGE said the Mary River turtle population has been in decline since 1970 with the turtles taking up to 25 years before they are able to breed. Dams and the egg collection for the pet trade contributed to the decline, EDGE said.

"Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals," Rikki Gumbs, coordinator of EDGE reptiles, told The Guardian. "… Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals.

"Many Edge reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages, whose branches of the tree of life stretch back to the age of the dinosaurs. If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth," Gumbs continued.

Despite the listing, The Guardian wrote that the Australian government does not have a national recovery plan to protect the Mary River turtle from extinction and it is unclear whether any federal government funds have been put aside for its protection.

A statement from the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection last year said that the University of Queensland was looking at habitat requirements and threats to the Mary River turtle, but that more information was needed to know how to protect it.

Those protections could include controlling feral animal and livestock near nesting areas, monitoring the impact of grazing on water quality in those areas, adhering to watercourse protection zones and controlling public access, the Queensland statement said.

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The Mary River turtle in Australia, with green hair and the ability to breathe through its genitals, was placed on the Zoological Society of London Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered Reptiles list, according to Australia's News.com.
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2018-36-13
Friday, 13 April 2018 11:36 AM
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