|Binomial name||Elseya irwini|
|Average weight||3.0 kgs|
|IUCN status||IUCN 3.1|
|Distribution of species||Queensland, Australia|
Irwin's turtle (Elseya irwini), is a species of Australian turtle. The female of the species has a pale head with a yellowish horny sheath on the crown.
It was named after its 'co-discoverer', famed zoologist and TV personality, Steve Irwin. Steve Irwin's father Bob Irwin, first caught the animal on a fishing line during a family camp trip in 1997. They never had seen it before. Steve Irwin took pictures and sent them to turtle-expert John Cann who verified that it was indeed a new species. This species of turtle, like some other turtles, can breathe underwater by taking water into its cloaca. A chamber with gill-like structures situated in the cloaca extracts oxygen; this enables the turtle to stay underwater for long periods without taking a breath.
Possibility of extinctionEdit
The Elseya irwini is named as a species facing extinction because of plans to build the Urunnah dam in far north Queensland.
The Government of Queensland has now backed away from the building proposal, saying “there are no current plans to build the Urannah Dam”.
The animal only lives in the Broken-Bowen River system and the lower Burdekin River, the area where the dam will be built.
Ecologist Dr Ivan Lawler, from James Cook University's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, states that there are around 4000 to 5000 examples left in the wild today. Researchers from the university have caught 82 turtles of which only five had been juveniles. This may indicate a threat to the future of the species; when the older generation dies, there may not be enough young to replace them.
An interesting fact is that there were only 5 males among the 77 adults caught, making the Elseya irwini the most female-biased turtle population known.