Wash swimmers and canoes and help prevent spread of virus

River landholder Fiona McMullin remembers the event in 2015 that killed an estimated 90 per cent of the now critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle.
River landholder Fiona McMullin remembers the event in 2015 that killed an estimated 90 per cent of the now critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle.

The critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle suffered a mass mortality event in 2015, killing an estimated 90 per cent of the population.

"It's difficult to describe how terrible it was to see 90 per cent of our turtles disappear from the river," river landholder Fiona McMullin said.

"We used to go down to the bank and see a dozen turtles lined up on a log and then the next day, we would go down and see absolutely none."

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is working hard with its partners on a trial turtle release program from captive breeding facilities at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Symbio Wildlife Park.

Bellingen Riverwatch was born from the need to collect continuous water quality data to assist scientists involved in the turtle's recovery.

This summer, Bellingen Riverwatch partners reminds the community that the biohazard risk of the virus still prevails.

"Please wash your swimmers and canoes in between visits to help prevent spreading the virus," Bellingen Riverwatch Coordinator Amy Denshire said. "It's a simple way we can help".

Bellingen Riverwatch is an initiative of OzGREEN and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in partnership with Bellingen Shire Council, NSW Waterwatch, Western Sydney University, Taronga Zoo Sydney, Bellinger Landcare, Earthwatch Institute, Eco Logical Australia, North Coast Local Land Services and Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance.

For more info on other ways you can help our rivers thrive, visit ozgreen.org.au/br_help. To sign up for Bellingen Riverwatch data direct to your inbox, visit ozgreen.org.au/br or email Amy on riverwatch@ozgreen.org.au.