Press StatementIn relation to the Press Conference held at TWCC on 1st May 2024

Bibra Lake, WA – 1.05.2024 – Our hearts break with the news of all the dead turtles found within Bibra Lake in recent weeks. For over two decades, the Wetlands Centre Cockburn has been a proud flagbearer of dedicated conservation efforts and educational outreach centred around the southwestern snake-necked turtle (Chelodina oblonga), a near-threatened species native to the biodiverse Southwest region of Western Australia.

The Wetlands Centre Cockburn is a not-for-profit community centre established with the City of Cockburn by academic and community volunteers concerned for the plight of Western Australia’s wetlands and their inhabitants. The centre has stood for decades as a place of gathering, learning, environmental stewardship and advocacy on the edge of Bibra Lake. As a recognised leader in environmental stewardship, the Centre has played a pivotal role in efforts to protect the snake-necked turtle through our activities supporting habitat restoration, monitoring, wetland education and information sharing at our annual conference.

Our community volunteer-run nursery has been vital for the rehabilitation of deteriorated shore areas of Bibra Lake, transforming them into thriving habitats essential for the turtle’s survival. This critical work not only underscores the Centre’s commitment to biodiversity but also highlights its role as a catalyst in community-led conservation initiatives.

Under the Turtle Watch initiative of the Australian Association for Environmental Education WA (AAEE), the Centre and its volunteers have been conducting numerous stalls, workshops, events, and classes since 2006. These activities are designed to educate children and the wider community about the conservation of our native turtles, reflecting the Centre’s deep commitment to environmental education and community engagement.

TWCC Volunteers Roe, Laksh, a volunteer turtle mascot, Vicky Hartill and Angela at the ‘Celebration of Science’ Event, National Science Week, CREEC, 19th Aug 2018

The groundbreaking Saving Our Snake-Necked Turtle (SOSNT) program developed by Murdoch University is one of the region’s largest citizen science projects to date. Each year, the Wetlands Centre in partnership with the City of Cockburn is the venue where the program begins, hosting the first information and sign-up sessions and at the close of the turtle nesting season, again hosts the season’s closing.

The SOSNT program has gained considerable attention, featuring annually at the WA Wetlands Conference since 2020. The conference has served as a platform for Project Manager Anthony Santoro, to share updates and successes, while he continues to inspire new turtle conservationists each year.

Year after year, The Wetlands Centre Cockburn remains steadfast in its mission to educate a broad cross-section of the community. Through various programmes and initiatives, the Centre not only sheds light on the importance of the southwestern snake-necked turtle but also fosters the deeper connection between the community and their local environment.

As we look to the future, The Wetlands Centre is committed to continuing its vital work in conservation and education. By nurturing an informed and engaged community, we further secure the survival of this unique species and the preservation of our precious wetland ecosystems.

For more information, please contact Ana Terrazas, General Manager.

About The Wetlands Centre Cockburn:

Located in the heart of Western Australia, The Wetlands Centre Cockburn is a leading non-profit organisation dedicated to wetland conservation and environmental education. With a focus on community engagement and sustainable practices, the Centre plays a crucial role in protecting local wildlife and habitats.

Cover Image: Southwestern Snake-necked Turtle Mural in the Centre’s Education Room created by Nyungar Artist Sharon Egan.

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