Bum-Breathing Turtles Were Found Tooting Along In A Qld River For The First Time In Decades

Finally, some good news. Bum-breathing turtles have been found in a Queensland river for the first time in 25 years. Now someone explain why that news brought a tear to my eye. It’s been a rough week.

The wee turtles are named after Steve Irwin’s dad Bob Irwin after the duo discovered them in the 1990s. You have to wonder if the turtles are enjoying our Y2K revival.

As you may have guessed, they’re called Irwin’s Turtle or Elseya irwini if you’re feeling fancy. IMO Elseya irwini sounds like something delicious you’d put on a pizza. But I digress.

The wee turts are found in the Bowen and Broken rivers in North Queensland. But they’re also supposed to live in the Lower Burdekin River, where hadn’t been seen for 25 years.

Thankfully though, the bum-breathing turtles have now been detected by James Cook University scientists. They used environmental DNA to suss out whether the turtles were still in the area, per the Oberon Review.

One of the concerns for the turtles was the building of Burdekin Falls Dam. Lead researcher Cecilia Villacorta Rath (excellent name) told the ABC the dam dramatically changed the ecosystem.

Namely it increased the water’s turbidity AKA its murkiness.

“There was this hypothesis that the species wouldn’t survive under these environmental conditions,” she said.

“However, we have found trace DNA of this species in many areas downstream from the dam, and this indicates the species is currently there.”

Because the turtles can breathe through their bums, they don’t need to come up to the surface to breathe like other turts. God, nature is so wonderful.

Professor Damien Burrows, James Cook University’s Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystems’ research director said the find was “reassuring”.

“Until this rediscovery, we didn’t have any formal records to prove that the Irwin’s turtle was still living in the lower Burdekin River,” he said, as per The Guardian.

A big round of applause to the bum-breathing turtles for truly fulfilling Bear Grylls’ command to improvise, adapt and overcome. I hope they’re tooting away happily.