The female of the species E. irwini has a pale head with a yellowish horny sheath on the crown.
Steve Irwin's father, Bob Irwin, first caught a specimen of E. irwini on a fishing line during a family camp trip in 1990. They had never seen it before. Steve Irwin took pictures and sent them to turtle-expert John Cann who verified that it was indeed a new species.
E. irwini, 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, enabling the turtle to stay underwater for long periods without taking a breath.
Possibility of extinction
The government of Queensland has new plans for the building proposal, saying “THE announcement of a $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility could potentially pave the way for the development of the Urannah Dam; a project which would create hundreds of jobs.”
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 4,000 to 5,000 individuals 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.
- Cann J (1997). "Irwin's Turtle, Elseya irwini sp. nov.". Monitor – J. Victorian Herp. Soc. 9 (1): 36-40.
- Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Elseya irwini, p. 130).
- Rheodytes leukops — Fitzroy River Turtle, Fitzroy Tortoise, Fitzroy Turtle
- George Christensen - Federal Member for Dawson
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