Council Concerned About Dangerous Turtle Found in Local Waterway

Date

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Release

The Red-eared Slider Turtle may seem like a great idea for a pet, but it is considered a pest – one of the world’s worst invasive species – and one has been caught on the Central Coast.

Central Coast Council’s Waterways Operations Team made the discovery yesterday during their routine water quality monitoring in a wetland at Hamlyn Terrace.

Council’s Waterways Operations Supervisor, Mr Matthew Barnett, said the team is always on the lookout for pest species in our waterways.

“My team was testing the water for nutrients and completing other water quality diagnostics when they saw a turtle basking in shallow water on the fringe of the constructed wetland,” Mr Barnett said.

“On closer inspection they saw it was a Red-eared Slider by the red distinctive marks on either side of its head.

“We are always on the lookout for pests in our waterways such as European Carp, Mallard Duck and Mosquito Fish as part of our monitoring, so that’s why we spotted the turtle.

“Constructed wetlands are the natural filters of the catchment area and assist in cleansing the water before it enters Tuggerah Lakes or our natural wetlands, such as the unique Porters Creek wetland.

“We use the results of the water quality testing to assist with analysis of the catchment areas to make sure there are no detrimental impacts on our local environment.

“We also monitor the wetlands to make sure pests and weeds, such as this turtle, do not make their way further into our environment.”

“We often come across species in our wetlands that have been released as unwanted pets or garden plants. This can happen from emptying fish tanks into the stormwater system.”

Council’s Noxious Weeds and Pest Species Officer, Mr Paul Marynissen, said the community needs to be made aware of the implications of dumping unwanted pets.

“It’s a common occurrence people think they can empty a fish tank into the local waterways, without realising the effects the weeds and pests have on our local environment,” Mr Marynissen said.

“While it may look cute and attractive, this Red-Eared Slider Turtle is nothing like Raphael the ninja turtle, it’s more like a member of Shredder’s footclan!

“Yes it’s a turtle with a temper! And people often only discover this after they have been bitten.

“They can inflict a nasty bite and are known to be a carrier of Salmonella. It’s also a long-lived species and breeds prolifically.

“This is why it is especially important they are not dumped into our waterways.”

The Red-eared Slider Turtle is listed on the illegal pet trade and are illegal to possess or sell without a permit.

“This turtle is considered one of the worst invasive species in the world and competes with our natives for food and habitat, even eating the young of our local turtles,” Mr Marynissen added.

“This is the second one we have caught in this catchment and we are concerned there could be more out there competing with our local turtles/tortoises for food and space.

“If you spot one of these turtles in our waterways, please call council straight away to report it.”

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Last updated : Wed 18 Jul 2018