Monday, 23 March 2015

Bellinger River snapping turtles face extinction from mystery virus on NSW mid north coast

By Tom Lowrey

Posted Wed at 7:51am

A rare freshwater turtle species may soon become extinct because of a mystery virus in the population on the NSW mid north coast.

Sick and dying Bellinger River snapping turtles have been washing up on the banks of the Bellinger River, near the town of Bellingen, since mid-February.

The virus attacks the turtles' internal organs, leaving them blind and starving, and most survive only a few days.

So far more than 300 have died as the virus travels upstream.

It is estimated there are only a few thousand of the snapping turtles within the river system.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has set up an incident management team to manage the situation, and try and save the species.

Deputy Incident Controller Geoff Ross said no turtles had survived the illness.

"It has 100 per cent mortality," Mr Ross said.

"There is no chance any turtle that has this disease has survived."

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