Without intervention, freshwater turtles in the Murray River could become extinct in our lifetime.

An estimated 40 percent of turtle species from around the world are threatened with extinction, making them one of the most vulnerable groups on Earth.

Now, research scientist Dr Ricky Spencer believes those freshwater species found in the Murray River are disappearing at a fast pace, with numbers dropping by more than 90 percent in the past 40 years and there’s no sign of this trend slowing.

Joining with the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife (FNPW) and several other project partners, Spencer has announced a three-year research project aimed at preventing the decline of turtles in the Murray River.

The project plans to integrate modern research with historical evidence captured over the past 40 years in order to develop a range of conservation management initiatives.

The project partners note that turtles in the Murray River ecosystem constitute the second largest vertebrate biomass and are therefore critical to maintaining sustainability of the system.

‘The Murray River plays an imperative role in the livelihood and wellbeing of millions of Australians and wildlife alike, and is a resource of social, economic and environmental value,’ reads FNPW’s media release on the subject.

‘If this issue is not managed, these reptiles will die out, directly affecting the ecology of the Murray River.’

FNPW has announced a fundraising campaign to help support the project and is calling on members of the public to consider donating to their Save Our Turtles page.