This threatened Mary River turtle has a punk following.
This threatened Mary River turtle has a punk following.

‘Punk’ Mary River turtle benefits from $20k grant

HAVING helped save the Mary Valley from being "drowned" by the Traveston Crossing Dam, fabulous creatures like a threatened bum-breathing turtle, an air-breathing lung fish and a prized cod are now on the receiving end of valuable human support.

Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien has presented the Save the Mary River Co-ordinating Group with a $20,000 grant to improve vegetation and habitat for the Mary River's aquatic and land-based fauna.

"The Mary Valley is an area of outstanding, unspoilt natural beauty, and I am pleased to be able to support the good work of Glenda Pickersgill and the Save the Mary River co-ordinating Group in protecting our unique flora and fauna so that future generations can enjoy it too," Mr O'Brien said.

Group spokeswoman Glenda Pickersgill, who helped lead the fight against the dam eventually cancelled by Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, was delighted by the federal support.

Glenda Pickersgill with a Mary River turtle.
Glenda Pickersgill with a Mary River turtle.


She said the funding would provide positive flow-on impacts for the a turtle that in 2018 was named as one of the top 100 edge reptiles by the Zoological Society of London EDGE program (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered).

It was also adopted by the Melbourne punk scene after a photo of one bum-breather appeared online sporting a green algae mohawk.

Ms Pickersgill said the latest survey showed the local turtle population lacked regeneration and "we're not seeing a lot of young recruitment".

"It was the Mary River turtle that saved the Mary Valley from the proposed Traveston Crossing Dam under the EPBC (Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act," she said.

"It's one of less than one percent of projects that has been stopped by that legislation.

"It (the act) is under review at the moment and I think that shows that the federal act needs to be strengthened not weakened."

Ms Pickersgill said the replanting project was about "looking after and protecting the habitat of all our wildlife".

"The tree planting is along the Mary Valley link road, linking back up to the higher areas where you have things like koalas to look after," Ms Pickersgill said.

Her group was concerned by the amount of private tree-clearing that has taken place in recent times.

"The trees have gone, but it's not just for wildlife corridors, it's for people as well," she said.

"We're getting a lot of noise ... we're getting a lot of light pollution happening from new development.

"It's about protecting us as well."

She said from her secluded home veranda she can count 35 lights due to new development.