ABOUT RIVER HABITATS
River (mai wah) habitats are important for providing a home to many water-loving animals.
There are many smaller habitats within rivers such as: the floodplains perfect for breeding, riffles (shallow water with a rocky river bed) where insects are found, and deeper pools for bigger animals such as fish and turtles.
Rivers also provide us with fresh water, but not as much as we may think… only about 0.3% of the fresh water on earth is easily accessible on the surface in lakes, rivers and swamps.
The rest of the fresh water is either frozen in icecaps and glaciers, or in aquifers.
We have good rain in Southeast Queensland to feed the rivers (such as the Brisbane River and Logan River) but sometimes there are droughts (much less rain than normal) and we often waste too much water. There was a big drought in 2001-2007 where water levels dropped and people had to limit their use of water.
This is why it’s important for us to use water wisely even when it seems like there’s a lot! We can help by taking short showers, turning the tap off when we brush our teeth, not watering your grass and encouraging other people to think about ways they can use less water.
It is very important to have a balance between the amount of river water available for plants and animals and for use by humans. We also need to avoid contaminating our rivers with waste - for a healthier life for plants, animals and us! And remember - pollution of our rivers means pollution of our coastal waters, Moreton Bay and its marine life.
SPOTLIGHT: THE MARY RIVER TURTLE
The Mary River Turtle is a fascinating creature endemic to Southeast Queensland! That means that it is only found in this region, between Gympie and Kenilworth near the Sunshine Coast.
What makes these animals so special is that they can breathe through their bums! This is a very special and unique adaptation that allows the turtles to stay underwater for days at a time in search of food.
Unfortunately, these turtles are endangered because of loss of habitat and feral animals eating their eggs (a feral animal is domestic animal, like a cat or dog, that has gone wild; feral animals are very destructive of our wildlife). The population was also impacted in the 1960s and 1970s when the young turtles were collected and sold as miniature ‘penny turtles’, when in actual fact they can grow to the size of a dinner plate!
Government and community groups are trying to help these turtles by controlling feral animals, protecting nesting sites from intruders, and habitat conservation.