We hear that due to highly saline conditions the short neck and long necked Murray Freshwater Turtles are dying in SA’s Lower Murray and Lakes region.
These unnatural conditions are enabling marine worms to infest the turtles leaving them with large, coral-like calcium deposits.
The kids at Milang Campus are doing a great job rescuing affected turtles, scraping off the coral and keeping them safe in a rehabilitation area until conditions improve. You can help them by donating money or purchasing a t-shirt, badge or jewellery.
Your support will enable the completion of the turtle rehabilitation centre at the Milang Campus and also assist the students to buy equipment and fuel for transport to collect turtles.
The MOSHCC website explains:
“Tubeworms, usually found in salt water, are building coral-like homes on the backs of the Short and Long neck turtles. The weight of this coral, up to 3kg, is causing the turtles to flip over and they are unable to right themselves. Therefore they are unable to find food and are easy targets for predators.
Unfortunately many turtles have already been found dead in the Clayton area where salinity levels have reached 27,000 EC (electrical conductivity) units – more than half the level of salinity of sea water (approximately 50,000 EC units).
Milang students have been travelling to Clayton to rescue these victims of a dying river system. Students have been removing the encrustation of coral from the shells of the turtles with screwdrivers and chisels. Once the coral is removed, the turtles are then transported back to Milang and released into Lake Alexandrina or further up the Murray River. Although salinity levels are higher than usual in Lake Alexandrina, (approximately 4,500 EC units) the turtles will have a much greater chance of survival in these waters. If the turtles return to Clayton Bay, coral deposits would return within six weeks.
The students are motivated and compassionate about helping the turtles which is pleasing, but the student’s intervention is only a short term solution. Without any long term solution, witnessing these turtles in the Lower Lakes region could be a thing of the past.
Through the students’ involvement in this initiative they will gain a wider understanding of the effect the drought and water over-allocation upstream has had on the lower Murray environment.
The work of these students has attracted local and national media attention. After reading articles which appeared in The Courier and The Southern Argus, Channel Ten flew their helicopter to Milang oval to report on the story also. The report was shown nationally, as was a 60 minutes report. The 60 minutes story, reported by Charles Woolley featured students from the Milang and 7-12 campuses of Eastern Fleurieu School. More recently, BTN, Today Tonight and Totally Wild have also featured the story. This coverage has helped to raise national awareness of the water crisis and to inform others of the intervention Eastern Fleurieu School students are undertaking.
On the October long weekend, Milang had a special visitor. World renown primatologist, Doctor Jane Goodall visited the Milang Campus to witness the ‘Save the Turtles’ project first hand. Whilst in Adelaide for a short time, she came to Milang to catch up with long time friend and Milang resident, Campbell Whalley.
After hearing about the turtle project from enthusiastic students, Dr. Jane walked to the foreshore to witness the low water levels first hand. Many community members walked with her. Her visit coincided with the Milang Old School House Community Centre’s 5th birthday and new shed ‘opening’. Hence Dr. Jane officially opened the new shed and shared in a lunch of soup and sandwiches supplied by the school and MOSHCC.”