Keep eagle eye over long-necks

By Charlotte Wooldridge | posted on September 18, 2020

ROAD users are being asked to take more caution while driving as Albany’s freshwater turtle hatchlings make the journey to their home ponds and lakes.

The native species, known as the western long-necked turtle, hatch between the months of August to October, and have been known to fall victim to cars as they make their way to their new destination.

Citizen Scientist Atlanta Veld has spent the past 13 years researching and assisting the turtles, who are approximately the size of a 50-cent coin when first hatched.

Ms Veld released a hatchling found at the back of the City of Albany North Road offices last week, returning the turtle to Lake Seppings.

Ms Veld said the Lake Seppings area provided a safe environment for the hatchlings to grow and develop.

“We don’t really know how many there are, but if I were to make a guestimate, I’d say there would be about 200 turtles in the lake here,” she said.

While the turtles are not endangered, Ms Veld said recent conservation efforts to maintain the population have been important to ensure the native reptiles don’t start disappearing.

“They’re near threatened, so they’re okay for the moment so to speak and they are quite adaptable, but it’s about working in with them to make sure that they have the habitat that they need,” she said.

“So, the best thing for them is the fringing area around lakes so they’ve got areas to nest.

“And that’s the biggest problem, that people want to go right up next to the lakesides and that doesn’t give these guys an opportunity to have nests near the water.

“But since the educated campaign and the signage going up, fatalities have dropped heaps. We only get a few deaths on the road per year now as opposed to so many we’ve seen in the past.”

Ms Veld urged drivers to remain aware of their surroundings to help keep the number of turtle deaths on the roads down.