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New project to assist in conservation of snake-necked turtles at Bunbury’s Big Swamp

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Breanna RedheadBunbury Herald
Snake-necked turtles inhabit Bunbury's Big Swamp marshlands.
Camera IconSnake-necked turtles inhabit Bunbury's Big Swamp marshlands. Credit: Anthony Santoro

A new community science initiative is set to take place in Bunbury to help save local fauna.

Friends of Big Swamp and the Leschenault Catchment Council have joined forces with Murdoch University and South West Group for a new project to assist with the conservation of snake-necked turtles in the local area, that members say has been “a long time coming.”

Funded by Lotterywest, the “Save Our Snake Necked Turtle Project” will look into the current threats facing the species living in Bunbury’s Big Swamp Marshlands in hopes to provide solutions and help re-populate the breed.

Located in a suburban area, the Bunbury Big Swamp is home to populations of the snake-necked turtle which face threats including predation by feral animals, mortality from road strikes and lack of suitable nesting habitat.

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The funding partnership will provide the Bunbury community with opportunity to receive training in the latest turtle knowledge and sign up to use TurtleSAT – an app which will inform future management actions - as an official turtle tracker.

Friends of Big Swamp chairman Chris Howe said the tracking will be done in a catch and release style system.

“The aim is to have as many people as possible helping during daylight hours over the coming weeks so we can estimate how big the population is but also how many active females we have during breeding season,” he said.

“The species is at a point now where the community needs to intervene in order to help because of the natural and man-made threats that are posed in the area.”

On Monday September 19, The City of Bunbury will host an information talk between 5-7pm on the species and discuss how the tracking procedure is set to work, led by Turtle Tracker founder Anthony Santoro.

Interested community members are invited to attend the free session and nominate themselves to be a turtle tracker and assist with the conservation efforts.

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