BUM-BREATHING TURTLE: The white-throated snapping turtle is in danger of having its habitat destroyed.
BUM-BREATHING TURTLE: The white-throated snapping turtle is in danger of having its habitat destroyed. Contributed

Connors River's bum-breathing turtles in danger

A BUM-BREATHING turtle is not something you hear of every day and without more protection it won't be heard of anymore either.

James Cook University researcher Jason Schaffer is calling for greater protection for the white-throated snapping turtle, which is known for its ability to extract oxygen from the water via cloacal respiration, in other words its bum.

Mr Schaffer's work has focused on one of the turtle's last strongholds - the Connors River, south of Mackay.

"Hatchling/juvenile turtles have a higher mortality in the river, coupled with a higher reliance on aquatic respiration, and so are more vulnerable to the degradation of water quality," he said. Mr Schaffer said the turtles were "simply not surviving".

Mr Schaffer said there had been plans for a dam to be built on the Connors River and there now appeared to be renewed interest in the idea.

"The Connors River is one of the last remaining free-flowing sections within the Fitzroy catchment, and there is an important need to conserve the last remnants of this high-quality riverine habitat," he said.

 



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