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Turtles are ancient, ectothermic (cold-blooded) air breathing reptiles, which are found on every continent except Antarctica and can survive in a wide range of habitats. There are approximately 300 species, varying in size from the huge marine Leatherback turtle which can weigh over 900 kg and measure 2.7 metres, to the tiny terrestrial Speckled Padloper weighing 140g and growing to 8cm in length.

Their most obvious feature of turtles is their bony, rigid shell – the carapace (upper part) the plastron (lower part), are joined together by bridges. The turtle cannot leave its shell because the shell is part of its skeleton.

Several species of freshwater turtles are found in Tamborine Mountain and surrounding areas. Recently a study revealed that there were actually two closely related but distinct species of Saw-shelled Turtles rather than just one species. The new previously undescribed species has been named in honour of long time Tamborine Mountain resident and turtle expert Mr Marcus Dorse in recognition of his fine contribution to public education and herpetology. The new species is known as Dorse’s Turtle (Wollumbinia dorsii). Congratulations Marc.

The Eastern Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis) dark carapace to 26 cm, pale plastron. Long neck gives it the name snake-necked turtle. Chiefly carnivorous, ambushes aquatic insects, shrimps, fish and invertebrates. Can travel considerable distances overland, which makes it vulnerable to car strike, in past years would be seen travelling en masse overland. If handled they secrete a pungent odour.

The Short-necked Turtle Brisbane River Turtle (Emydura macquarii signata) olive to brown carapace to 28cm, pale plastron, yellow stripe on the side of s face.  Omnivorous feeds on aquatic plants, algae and insects.

The Broad-shelled Turtle (Chelodina expansa) fawn oval carapace to 35 cm, narrow pale plastron, long thin neck and broad head. Chiefly carnivorous, ambushes fish, yabbies and crayfish.

The Saw-shelled Turtle (Wollumbinia latisternum brown carapace to 30cm, whitish plastron, short spiny neck, heavy head shield and carapace serrations. Chiefly carnivorous, feeds on tadpoles, frogs and carrion. One of the few native animals that is able to prey on cane toads.

Dorse’s Turtle (Wollumbinia dorsii) blackish carapace to 23 cm, creamish yellow plastron, ragged edge to its carapace. Its range is from Richmond River system in NSW through southeast Qld to Brisbane.

Red-eared Slider Turtle
an aggressive, introduced, North American declared pest species. Adults to 30 cm, red stripe or patch and pale stripes around the eyes, carapace is green to brown and the head pulls straight back into the shell, whereas natives fold their head sideways. If you see a Slider contact the EPA.   

Much about turtles remains mysterious – some hybridise, they communicate subsonically, they have amazing navigational skills and they are very long lived (over 200 years for some species) unfortunately populations of most species, including our locals, are declining under pressure from human activity. If we want to preserve our turtles we have to protect our waterways.

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Why does attentiveness to nature matter? In a very fundamental sense, we are what we pay attention to. Paying heed to beauty, grace, and everyday miracles promotes a sense of possibility and coherence that runs deeper and truer than the often illusory commercial, social "realities" advanced by mainstream contemporary culture. ... Our attention is precious, and what we choose to focus it on has enormous consequences. What we choose to look at, and to listen to--these choices change the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh has pointed out, we become the bad television programs that we watch. A society that expends its energies tracking the latest doings of the celebrity couple is fundamentally distinct from one that watches for the first arriving spring migrant birds, or takes a weekend to check out insects in a mountain stream, or looks inside flowers to admire the marvelous ingenuities involved in pollination. The former tends to drag culture down to its lowest commonalities; the latter can lift us up in a sense of unity with all life. The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner and published by Trinity University Press (Texas)