ENVT 200 03

Nat Geo: Mary River Turtle


Unfortunately, yet another species has been added to the endangered species list. As per the National Geographic article, “Turtle with Green Mohawk Faces Extinction”, the Mary River turtle from Australia is facing extinction. This turtle who is differentiated as having a Mohawk made of green algae and can breathe through its genitals, has not been of much concern to conservationists due to its strange appearance. However, the effect of hydroelectric dams on the Mary River is causing severe damage to the species. The Mary River turtle was said to have evolved 40 million years ago, but only a few hundred years of human impact has the species population dwindling. Using Hydroelectric energy seems like a great alternative to burning fossil fuels, but it causes damage to the flow of river water and negatively impacts the species that live in it. This turtle is just another species who was not cared for sufficiently to be protected and who was affected by the negative impacts of hydroelectric dams.

This article states that it is common for conservation agencies to ignore endangered species who are not aesthetically pleasing to humans. Studies have shown that conservationists aren’t taking care of these animals and go as far as to say that species with big eyes and round faces are more protected by humans. So, while species like the Panda and Polar bears get a large amount of attention, a species like the Mary River turtle gets forgotten. The conservation group EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered), is responsible for finally marking the Mary River green turtle as endangered. EDGE is the group in charge of this for different species, but this year is the first time they added reptiles to their list. Finally, species like the pig-nose turtle, the Round Island keel-scaled boa, and the Madagascar blind snake are recognized as being close to extinction. Although this is good news for conservation, only about a hundred reptile species were added to the list, which only marks a small portion of all endangered reptiles.

Humans have been racing for new sources of renewable power for many years now. Our main source of power thus far comes from the burning of fossil fuels which causes greenhouse gasses to be emitted into the atmosphere which then eventually leads to global warming. Other methods of electricity such as wind or solar, leave no waste but are less efficient when collecting energy. Hydroelectric power is highly efficient at getting energy but requires large dams to be built. These large dams use the energy of flowing rivers to spin large turbines which generate electricity. Although no fossil fuels are burned from this process, there are still severe negative impacts. A dam can completely change the geography of an area; habitats can be completely submerged in water in order to make space for all the water it is holding back. The large dam blocking water also prevents the occurrences of the natural flow of the river. That’s why species, like the Mary River turtle, are having trouble surviving.


One thought on “Nat Geo: Mary River Turtle

  1. prof.saunders

    Great job exploring pros and cons of hydroelectricity and how people are more apt to rally around certain species over others. I think this little guy would be someone folks could endear themselves to, though!

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