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Fraser Island Expansa

Discussion in 'Australian Freshwater Turtle Conservation' started by GregC, Sep 17, 2017.

  1. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    Does anyone know the current status of the Fraser Island expansa in the wild? I have ready several publications and threads here, which all indicate that the population is on the decline, and that there is very little, or no recruitment, of neonates. Does anyone know how many lakes they are found on, and if any recent surveys have been done to survey the populations?
    From what it sounds like, this population will be extinct if conservation efforts are not taken to protect them, .i.e protecting nests, head starting, limiting access to some of the smaller lakes, etc.

    I also have also read similar publications which indicate that C. colliei populations are suffering the same fate, with many of the animals being aged adults.
     
  2. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
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    G'day Greg, Craig and I travelled to Fraser Island in January 2016 to document numbers of Emydura macquarii nigra and Macrochelodina expansa in Lake McKenzie.

    What we saw over 3 days were hundreds of Emydura macquarii nigra from tiny little yearlings, to juveniles, sub-adults and adults. Their status would be quite secure. On the other hand we encountered less than half a dozen expansa on the trip. We photographed a couple of adults and a pair of juveniles.
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    We will be returning to Fraser island at a later date to further investigate the expansa population.
     
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  3. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    Thanks for the prompt response. If you guys decide to go back to Fraser I would love to join you. I've been meaning to go to AU for some time and it would be great to be able to get out there to see what is going on. We can maybe make an article out of it and make people more aware of what is happening. It would be a shame to lose the species. I've seen them first hand and they are unique. They are actually my favourite Macrochelodina, unless you consider Chelodina (Macrodiremys) colliei as part of that group.
     
  4. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi Greg, unfortunately there hasn't been much research lately on Fraser Island turtles. The last time a population study was done was back in 2008. I have personally visited Fraser in 2012, 2014 and 2016 since then.
    In 2016 I took a mate and his family to Fraser Island to see if anything had changed and I was pleased to locate 2 juveniles as well as a few adults.

    Fraser Island Broad-shelled turtles are in a number of lakes, particularly Lake McKenzie, Lake Birrabeen and Lake Boomanjin. I have also located small numbers in a few other lakes as well.
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  5. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Funny you mentioned that Greg, I was contemplating doing paid 4WD Fraser Island freshwater turtle trips to see the populations of these unique species before they go extinct to raise money to keep our not-for-profit charity afloat.
     
  6. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    Let's talk about that. We may be able to help each other as well as the turtles. I would love to spend a week out there and get some real data, photographs, etc. Many do not realise how "special" this population is. Seems that all the colourful groups such as Cuora are gaining all the recognition these days. There is little market and interest in long necks here in the States. Even species which are functionally extinct in the wild such as Chelodina mccordi, have little draw. Whenever I try to sell hatchlings of this species, there is little interest, and it is a shame, as they are a great little turtle.
     
  7. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    That's a crying shame Greg. If more turtle keepers were breeding them in captivity there would be a larger 'safety net' for the species.
     
  8. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    There are people breeding them but most originate from two original groups. I can't speak for the animals in EU collections, but in the US, I think it is only Bill McCord and myself that have large groups of animals from unrelated unrepresented bloodlines.
     
  9. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi Greg,
    From the evidence I have seen over many years visiting the Island, I believe that the main cause for the decreasing numbers of the species are predation by Dingoes and birds of prey, as well as the predation of eggs by the large nunbers of Torresian crows and Goannas.
     
  10. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    Was there an increase in the predator populations that would correlate with the decrease in the expansa population? Have you seen a difference in the overall number of emydura as well? Even if they are still fairly common there numbers should have been affected.

    I've seen various pics of wild Fraser expansa and many looked thin and malnourished with their heads sunken in. I also read a study about the ecology of the lakes and how the large number of bathers, and the skin which sloughs their body, has increased the amount of organic matter in the lakes, which has resulted in increased fertility which = algae blooms. If I can locate the article I will post the link.
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 19, 2017, Original Post Date: Sep 19, 2017 ---
    Btw, I see I have gone from egg to hatching on the site.:)
     
  11. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Yes there was. Dingo numbers got out of hand between 2008 and 2012.
    Since numbers have been culled, the population of expansa seem to be making a comeback.

    The population of E.m.nigra has always been very large and very secure, as they mainly feed on the aquatic plants and algae. They also nest very close to the lake whereas M.expansa travel further from the lakes increasing the chances of predation by wild animals. M. expansa rely on the small numbers of fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects available to them which appears to be somewhat limited.

    That's very strange. I've been diving the lakes of Fraser Island for 20 years (since 1997) and have seen upwards of 200 M.expansa in many lakes and have never identified any M.expansa specimens that looked malnourished with their heads sunken in.
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  12. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    The govt should have a population control plan in place for the predators.
     
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  13. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    They culled all of the Brumbies on the Island and left the Dingo numbers unchecked. This would also help to explain the severity of the M.expansa population decline.
     
  14. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    That makes no sense. These govt officials make no sense. There is more than one reason for them to thin out the dingo population on the island.

    On a side note, how are Dingo faring on the rest of the continent. I read something that populations are down?
     
  15. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    When does any Government make any sense Greg? It's very rare these days.
    It's always been a case of poor decisions, and knee-jerk reactions.

    Yes that's true, especially in QLD. Farmers are allowed to shoot and poison Dingoes (wild dogs) on their properties. It seems to be more controlled in other states of Australia.

    When I lived in Queensland I could hear the howling of 3 separate populations of Dingoes calling to each other. It was awesome to hear. The Dingoes would have helped keep the numbers of Feral cat populations and Foxes down.
     
  16. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Greg, can you have a look at my two photos above of M.expansa on the sand and tell me what you think of their body condition? Post # 11
     
  17. GregC

    GregC Hatchling Turtle

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    May just be the pics then?

    That is an AWESOME pic! I've seen it before and I love it!

    Hope the Dingos carry on. They are iconic.
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 19, 2017, Original Post Date: Sep 19, 2017 ---
    They look great. I just wonder if the pics I saw were bad shots?
     
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  18. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    I think that it may just have been the photos.