The Southern Highlands Community now has another opportunity to contribute towards the preservation of our valuable wildlife. New South Wales is home to 7 species of native freshwater turtle, two of which are found nowhere else, and by taking our local Turtle Tour you can get involved in their protection as a Citizen Scientist!
May 23rd is observed as World Turtle Day every year. This crucial event aims to create awareness about safeguarding turtles and tortoises, along with their habitats, which are rapidly depleting worldwide.
This year, to mark the occasion, Western Sydney University researchers announced the launch of a world-first nesting location predictive tool.
“Utilising over 15,000 sightings of turtles reported by citizen scientists using TurtleSAT, this predictive tool shows nesting locations for a range of turtle species across Australia” said Associate Professor Ricky Spencer.
“The purpose of the TurtleSAT is to increase knowledge of freshwater turtle distribution across Australia and identify hotspots for future conservation through data collection and this tool is the next step forward,” said Ricky.
This unique tool would not be possible without the help of citizen scientists and partner groups – and has many applications to help turtles.
By mapping likely nesting sites for freshwater turtles, researchers, conservationists and the community will now have an even greater opportunity to take action to monitor and protect turtle nests from predators.
The 1 Million Turtles Project is a national community conservation citizen science program that promotes a strong collaboration between scientists and the community to support initiatives aimed at conserving threatened Australian freshwater turtle species.
Locally, Wingecarribee Shire Council have been working with researchers and the comm- unity to launch the Lake Alexandra Turtle Tour and promote the TurtleSAT app. The tour is comprised of 5 coreflutes situated around the lake informing people about freshwater turtles , what species they should expect to find, and more.
“We encourage community members to take the tour and consider becoming a citizen scientist to help us continue to build our understanding of freshwater turtle distribution across the Southern Highlands.” Said Council’s, Patrick Tegart, Environment Officer Biodiversity Projects & Community Education.”As we move into winter turtles can be a little harder to spot, but the good news if you have previously taken photos of freshwater turtles on your phone you can still upload them to TurtleSAT” Patrick said.
To access the new modelling tool and for more information about joining the program, and becoming a citizen scientist, please visit The 1 Million Turtles web page.
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