Dedicated former ranger keeps watch
FORMER Paradise Dam ranger Greg Aberdein is keen to continue his research into the endangered elseya albagula, a freshwater turtle species also know as the snapping turtle.
Mr Aberdein has a permit issued by the Department of Environment and Heritage and will be one of a few doing the study.
When the Paradise Dam Turtle Hatchery was built and funded by the co-ordinator general, it was world class. But, after funding ceased, it is now empty, all equipment transferred to Bundaberg and Mr Aberdein was made redundant almost 12 months ago.
When the Environmental Protection Agency conducted a two-year study into freshwater turtles in the Burnett River it found there were only 200 turtles of an aging population.
Mr Aberdein said the elseya albagula turtle had to be 20 years old before they could breed.
“The Paradise Dam Turtle Hatchery was established as a site where eggs could be incubated safely and the hatchlings then released back into their habitat,” he said.
“Too many baby turtles in the wild didn’t get hatch because of predators like foxes, pigs, goannas and water rats. Since those first clutches of baby turtles hatched in October 2006, 2000 had been released back into the Burnett River Catchment. Only 1% of them will reach adulthood.”
But what Mr Aberdein has found since the Australia Day floods has him worried. “The river banks have changed and there are no trees left where the turtles used to nest,” he said. “They are coming out and turning around without laying so it doesn’t look promising this year. If I can locate a nest on the river I will put an electric fence around the nest to protect it the best I can.”
Mr Aberdein said it was a worse situation now than when he started.
“We need more research to see what damage the floods caused not only in 2013 but in 2010,” he said.
Mr Aberdein, who is self-funded, would love to investigate the headwaters of Degilbo Ck where only one turtle has been found.
The endangered Elseya Albagula Turtle or Snapping Turtle that Greg Aberdein is keen to continue to study.