All wild clutches protected during 2012/13 nesting season successfully hatched prior to the major floods experienced in the Mary River, south east Queensland in January & February 2013. Tiaro Landcare members protected nests where they were laid. Minimal human
interference allows the turtles to continue their lifecycle as they have done for millenia. Without protection of nests, the majority of eggs would be predated, putting the survival of this species at risk.
Enthusiastic volunteers from Kenilworth, many kilometres upstream of Tiaro, have helped with finding and protecting nests in the mid catchment. Sunshine Coast Regional Council have fenced a bank to prevent 4WD driving over nests of the endangered Mary River turtle, plus installed informative signage.
This species continues to be unpredictable.A new clutch was found on Thursday morning 19th January….most seasons laying is finished by the end of December. Many of the first clutches laid this season have already hatched.
On Saturday, December 10, Ron and Marilyn rescued a clutch from rising flood waters. 12 eggs were relocated to the top of the nesting bank. To our surprise when checking the banks on Wednesday December 21, we discovered all 12 eggs had hatched and were on their way to the river. Check out this rare wild footage captured today.
Title: Releasing Mary River turtle hatchlings with Trackers Location: Mary River Description: 12 year old Mary River turtles were released as part of University of Queensland Honours student, Zac’s research project. Date: 2011-03-12
Quite unexpectedly our Project Officer discovered a newly laid nest when checking a nesting bank on 8th Dec. It was so unexpected as the river was in flood. However the river flows upstream in front of this bank and the turtle was able to swim out of the main flow of the river. This was nest number 65 which our group have protected during this nesting season. A very successful nesting season so far.
February is generally our wettest month. Rarely do we have any nests with unhatched eggs at this time of year and consequently don’t have to worry about the likelihood of flood waters inundating nests. However this year we still have a number of unhatched clutches. With a rising river in early Feb I had to make a dash to the river, got caught in a downpour, and rescued 2 clutches. They were relocated to the highest part of the bank. Thankfully this weeks river rise (river peaked at 4.80m at Home Park, our nearest River Gauging Station) was below these clutches which may take another 2 weeks to hatch. Unfortunately on another nesting bank, we were unable to get to 2 clutches. However we are hopeful as the river is dropping quickly.
Usually the nesting season is finished by now, electric fences are removed and nest protection gear collected. Not so this season. The first nesting occured mid October following our first spring rain. Next to no rain fell in spring and early summer, consequently no nesting during this period. Fortunately for 6 females who were still carrying eggs, it rained just before Christmas. Feb is our wettest month so we’ll have to keep an eye on the height of the Mary River in case a nest or two needs to be relocated. We estimate at least 180 hatchlings successfully emerged from their nests from the first laying. There could be another 90 still incubating.