You may see some people conducting testing or wading in the lakes at Hyde Park over the next six months or so, so we wanted to let you know what they’re doing and why.

What’s happening?

The lakes are home to the oblong turtle (Chelodina colliei), which is native to Australia’s south west. Its conservation status is classified as near threatened due to loss of wetlands since European settlement and other threats including predation (by cats and foxes), and a drying climate.

The City has commissioned a study to determine the health and size of the turtle population. No studies have been conducted to date and the population seems to be aging and decreasing in size – there’s been fewer sightings of adults and hatchlings by our Green Team and also the community over the past 10-15 years.

The study

The project will be supervised by Dr Roberta Bencini from the School of Animal Biology at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and co-supervised by Dr Gerald Kuchling (also from UWA) who has over 27 years’ experience working with turtles. Blaine Hodgson – UWA Master-by-Coursework student – will undertake the project work with assistance from UWA staff.

From mid-September until March 2016, the team will work onsite to determine to male and female population ratio, estimated age distribution of the population (based on size) and reproductive status of the females.

The study will involve the capture and release of turtles using drift nets or ‘cathedral traps’, a special trap designed to allow the capture of turtles whilst preventing drowning as it allows the turtles to surface and breathe. Turtles will be weighed, sexed, measured and microchipped. Mature females will be given ultrasound scans to determine if they are carrying eggs.

All work will be conducted under the requirements of the UWA Animal Ethics Committee to ensure a high standard of animal safety and handling.

Why are we conducting the study?

One of the objectives of the City of Vincent’s Sustainable Environment Strategy 2011-2016 is to ‘Re-establish, conserve and enhance floral and faunal biodiversity, native vegetation, green spaces and green linkages within the City’.

The turtles play an integral part in the ecosystem. This population study is paramount in order to achieve the above objective as it will provide a baseline for future monitoring of the turtles in Hyde Park Lakes.

For more information

If you have any queries, you may contact the City’s Project Officer - Parks & Environment, Sarah Hill, on 9273 6000. For all onsite queries, you can contact the team via the UWA School of Animal Biology on 6488 2521.