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World Turtle Day

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Conservation

Bell's Turtle

Bell's Turtle

Credit: (c) John Cann

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Today is World Turtle Day.

Here are a few facts:

Turtles are among the most evolutionally successful animals on Earth. They have existed for approximately 200 million years; however of the 250 or so species that exist today, many—both freshwater and marine—are now under threat.

Australia has is home to at least 36 described species of freshwater turtle, and six of the seven recognised marine turtle species. Many are also unique to Australia.

Populations of turtles are currently in decline as they compete with ever expanding human populations for water and resources.

Marine turtles are particularly at risk, including the Pacific Ridley Turtle, the huge Leatherback Turtle (the sole member of its family) and the Flatback Turtle, which nests only on Australia's northern coastline.

Of the freshwater species, some, such as the Western Swamp Turtle, are on the brink of extinction as habitats are polluted, degraded or over-used for irrigation.