The Mary River turtle Is Now Officially Endangered

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The Mary River turtle, famous for its punky green hairstyle and unique underwater abilities, is now on the brink of extinction. This 40cm-long water turtle can only be found on the Mary River in Queensland, Australia.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has recently ranked this remarkable turtle number 29th on a new list of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles and has been classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List since the 1990s.

The ‘punk’ turtle, also referred to as a “butt breather” has the unusual ability to stay underwater for three consecutive days through specialized glands in an opening that serves both the reptile’s butt and genitals. This ability provides the turtle with a bright green mohawk, the result of algae growing on its head while submerged for extended periods.

According to Rikki Gumbs, reptile biologist at ZSL, these turtles were often kept as pets during the exotic pet trade in the 1960s and 1970s. Around 15,000 “penny turtle” eggs were sold each year to pet shops during those times.

“The turtle takes a long time to reach sexual maturity, taking up to 25 to 30 years,” Gumbs told CNN. “As their vulnerability was discovered late, we lost a whole generation due to the pet trade and now their population has become very small.”

Protection of these turtles is ongoing so that these reptiles have a chance of survival and can live for many years to come. You can make a donation to the Australian Geographic Society to help the Mary River turtle and protect nesting sites and increase the hatchling population along the river.