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Why did the turtle cross the road?

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Winton Wetlands is fortunate to play host to some interesting ‘heroes in half-shells’ including the Eastern Long-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) and Murray River turtle (Emydura macquarii). Turtles love to use the edges of the Wetland’s swamps for laying eggs and are known to travel between expanses of water which provide their food resources.

“We are seeing turtles almost on a daily basis at the moment around the Wetlands”, said Lance Lloyd, Restoration Scientist at Winton Wetlands.

“We’ve seen an abundance of turtles crossing Lake Mokoan Road and they’ve even been visiting the Mokoan Hub and Café and near the boat ramp”.

These four-legged friends contribute to the diversity of fauna represented at the Wetlands and are the subject of ongoing restoration and monitoring, including that being conducted by the Friends of Winton Wetlands who use an online mapping database, TurtleSAT, to log their findings.

Fingers are tightly crossed in the hope of finding the locally-extinct Broad-shelled turtle (Chelodina expansa), but the focus is on conservation efforts across all species.

For visitors to the area and beyond, there are a few ways to help your local turtle populations, including recording sightings using databases like TurtleSAT and lending a helping hand to turtles taking the treacherous journey across roadways.

Turtles travel to seek out healthy habitats, food and water. Keep the following tips in mind if you see a turtle crossing the road:

  • Be cautious of your own safety by checking where you stop your car and being aware of other vehicles travelling on the roadway
  • Take a quiet, low and slow approach towards the turtle to prevent distress
  • Pick the turtle up firmly by the shell edges, keeping it low to the ground
  • Move the turtle off the road making sure to keep it facing the way it was walking to continue on its travels!