When we were coming home from a nearby town last weekend, I spotted what I thought was a black rubbery thing on the side of the road. As we drove past, I realised it was a
tortoise turtle — I thought it was dead, but when I got out of the car to take a photo and put it on the verge, I realised it was very much alive.
It took off back over the road towards the wetlands, and I shepherded it across the road in case other cars came along (it’s a quiet street, but you never know). The poor thing must have been really terrified as it started to pee copiously while heading back over the road and continued peeing all the way to the other side.
The next day I mentioned it to a friend who used to live in the area — she said they came across the road from the wetlands to lay their eggs in the sandy soil on the other side of the road. So perhaps I was too eager to shepherd her (I assume it was a female) back to the wetlands as she may not have laid her eggs yet 😦
I wanted to find out what sort of turtle she was, so off to the internet where I found out that she was a snake-necked turtle (Chelodina oblonga); this species is also know by other common names. The species is endemic to the south-west corner of Western Australia and is found nowhere else. It is listed as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN global endangered species list.
I decided to submit a request to the local shire council to see if they could place ‘turtle crossing’ signs on this stretch of road, and to be honest, I didn’t expect to hear back from them. But today — one week later — I got copied in on an email from a council supervisor to a worker: ‘Please arrange to obtain a couple of these signs and erect on the lower portion of [XYZ] Drive.’ FTW!!!
BTW, I never did get a photo of her as I was so surprised to see she was still alive and I was keen to make sure she wasn’t run down by any other vehicles.
I’ll post an update once the ‘turtle crossing’ signs are installed. It’s nice to know that my local government authority takes notice of requests like these. Maybe quoting the IUCN classification and how these turtles are ONLY found in this area helped…
(Correction: I misnamed her! She’s a turtle, not a tortoise! Thanks for your comment on Facebook, Leah, which made me check. I’ve always had in my head that those that live in the sea are turtles and those on land are tortoises. And I’m partially right, except that those that live in *water*, whether at sea or on land, are turtles.)
Update 21 October 2103: The turtle signs are installed! I noticed them yesterday when driving home from town but couldn’t take a picture. Now that was quick. What a great response from the Shire.
Update 28 October 2013: The sign is up!