A MICRO-organism rather than pollution is thought to be the reason behind the recently discovered mass of dead and sick Bellinger River turtles.
Early pathology results undertaken by veterinary scientists at Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo have shown eyes, sinus, brain and vascular system have been affected.
This finding comes on top of the first round of water testing results by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) which support the initial observations that the turtle deaths were not related to a pollution incident.
EPA officers took the samples from four key locations along the river including at Myers Bluff and Thora Bridge. The first round of results has confirmed that there are no traces of pesticide or hydrocarbon in the samples.
In addition to the samples and in response to community concern, EPA officers also carried out an inspection of road works being carried out by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) at Myers Bluff on Waterfall Way. No environmental issues were identified but the EPA requested that RMS carry out a thorough review of its activities to ensure there are no underlining environmental issues which may affect the river.
A National Parks and Wildlife Service’s spokesperson told the Courier-Sun the full set of pathology results are due by the end of the week and this will help narrow down the microorganism responsible.
In addition National Park and Wildlife has set up an incident management team at the Belllingen Shire Council and is liaising with representatives from the Department of Primary Industry, Taronga Zoo, Dolphin Marine Magic, WIRES, EPA and council.
In a statement to the Courier-Sun, the EPA said it “will continue to work closely with Bellingen Shire Council, OEH, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the community as part of the investigation”.
Anyone with information which they think may be useful to the investigation is encouraged to contact the EPA’s 24hour Environment Line on 131-555.