Irwin's turtle

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Irwin's turtle
Irwins Turtle A.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Pleurodira
Family: Chelidae
Subfamily: Chelodininae
Genus: Elseya
Subgenus: Pelocomastes
Species: E. irwini
Binomial name
Elseya irwini
Cann, 1997[1]

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.[2]
It was named after its "co-discoverer", famed zoologist and TV personality, Steve Irwin.[3] Steve Irwin's father, Bob Irwin, first caught the animal on a fishing line during a family camp trip in 1997. 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. This species of turtle, like some other turtles,[4] 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[edit]

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 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.”[5]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cann J. 1997. "Irwin's Turtle, Elseya irwini sp. nov." Monitor – J. Victorian Herp. Soc. 9 (1): 36-40.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Elseya irwini, p. 130).
  4. ^ Rheodytes leukops — Fitzroy River Turtle, Fitzroy Tortoise, Fitzroy Turtle
  5. ^ George Christensen - Federal Member for Dawson

External links[edit]