Turtles the talk of the town in Shepparton

By Ilias Bakalla

Shepparton community organisation RiverConnect and not-for-profit organisation Turtles Australia joined forces for their annual turtle talk at KidsTown on Friday.

RiverConnect project officer Meg Pethybridge said the event aimed to educate the younger generation about turtles and let them interact with some of the creatures.

“We teach them about what to do if you come across a turtle on the road and what to do if they come across a nest.

“We have been running this for at least three years now as part of the Activities in the Park program,” Ms Pethybridge said.

Turtles Australia president Graham Stockfeld.

“This year the adults have been really engaged, and asking questions. They seemed to get annoyed when the kids were talking too loud for them to hear the answers,” she said with a laugh.

“We have three species of turtles here; the broadshell, eastern long neck and Murray River turtle.”

Turtles Australia science officer Rolf Weber said the day aimed to inspire the youngsters to protect the animals.

Leo Skenderas, 6, from Shepparton.

“There is not a lot of data on turtles and they are a vital part of the river ecosystem,” he said.

“They eat up all the dead fish and dead foliage.

“We don't have much data collected on turtles, so we hope the public can contribute to our online database.”

Graham Stockfeld from Turtles Australia talks to the crowd.

Turtles Australia volunteer Jeremy Pike said it was great for the children to be able to interact with the turtles.

“Hopefully the kids learn what role freshwater turtles play in the ecosystem and how important they are as a native species.

“Everyone seemed to be really engaged today.”

Noah Moore, 11, from Shepparton with Albert the Turtle Talk at Kidstown.

Carole Robertson, from Christchurch in New Zealand, attended the event last year with her granddaughter Elsie Stevens, and decided to come again.

“I come over here to see my granddaughter, who lives in Ardmona, during the Christmas holidays,” she said.

“It was really good to learn about all the different turtles.”

Elsie, 5, who is about to start school in February, said she took lots of photos of the turtles with her grandmother's phone.

“My favourite part was when the turtle climbed over Grandma's foot,” she said.