SEPTEMBER 26 2019 Steve Robinson Gloucester Environment Group landholders were part of a large workshop audience gathered by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to hear the results of recent surveys of the endangered Manning River Turtle. The surveying was done by three ecologists using traps and snorkelling. The freshwater turtle we are most familiar with is the Eastern long-neck turtle which occurs all up and down the Eastern seaboard. But the Manning River or Purvis Turtle is a short-necked turtle of about the same size that is confined to the Manning River. This striking medium-sized freshwater turtle is recognised by their distinct colouring - yellow markings on the underside of shell and tail, as well as a yellow stripe from the jaw down to the neck of the shell. The only other short-necked turtle in our river is a new intruder from the Murray River. Genetic studies show the Manning River Turtle has been isolated from other turtles for up to 80 million years. The surveys which occurred in the deep holes of the Manning's tributaries last autumn, indicate there may only be about a thousand individuals left. Alarm bells rang when the Bellinger River Turtle was nearly eliminated in 2015, by a mass killing caused by a virus. Turtles live for up to 100 years and the females do not start to lay eggs until they are about 15 years old. About 20 eggs are laid together in nests in the riverbank about 15 centimetres below the surface. During the workshop we saw night camera vision of foxes digging out nests and of work by researchers in other areas using tracker dogs to find nests. They then laid down netting which the hatchlings could crawl under to reach the river safely. Most Manning River Turtles have been found in tributaries of the Barnard and Nowendoc Rivers, with a few found at Woko National Park and one in the Gloucester River at Faulkland Road. The current drought has reduced sections of the rivers to strings of waterholes with deteriorating water quality. If cattle have access to the riverbanks they may inadvertently tread on nests. Further workshops are planned for the future and will be available to the community. Gloucester Environment Group looks to bring awareness of issues to residents and local government affecting the wildlife habitat and parklands in the region.