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Brisbane Short-necked Turtles

Emydura macquarii signata (syn. Emydura krefftii signata)


A group of turtles may be called a bale, turn, dole, or nest, and I saw dozens of turtles, so any of these group names will suffice. I've been coming to UQ for several years and would usually see at least half a dozen turtles around the lake, but numbers have multiplied dramatically in recent months. Anyway, these are "Brisbane short-necked turtles", a short-necked turtle subspecies native to the Brisbane region, and a member of the family Chelidae (side-necked turtles). They have an olive to brown carapace which can grow up to 28cm, and a yellow stripe on the sides of the face. This is an omnivorous species that feeds on small crustaceans, insects, algae and aquatic plants. PS: Last Photo - Standing on the footbridge that spans part of the lake, my sister and I counted 25 turtles swimming directly towards us, all in the space of about 30 seconds, no doubt keen for some tasty morsels. And they were just the ones we saw, and in such a small area, so with that as a general guide, one can only surmise there would have to be hundreds of turtles in these lakes.


Spotted on, in or by, the freshwater lake at the University of Queensland's St. Lucia Campus, Brisbane. Recent heavy rains have started to break up a serious algal bloom that has affected water quality during the recent drought, but it doesn't seem to have slowed the turtles up any.


On this visit I was hoping to spot a "saw-shelled turtle" (Myuchelys latisternum, syn. Elseya latisternum), another endemic species that occurs naturally at the lake. Alas, it was not to be, but I will keep looking. The saw-shelled turtle is one of the few native animals to successfully prey upon the ubiquitous cane toad (Rhinella marina).

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross 4 years ago

Thanks, Mark and Brian. Turtles everywhere.

Brian38 4 years ago

Amazing spotting Neil!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 4 years ago

Great series. #3 looks like they are paddling a boat. #5 is classic.

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Jan 19, 2020
Submitted on Jan 26, 2020

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