Dubbed as The Crocodile Hunter, the late Steve Irwin remains relevant due to his evident love for wildlife, especially reptiles. Among all his achievements, one of his most notable accomplishments is his discovery of a new turtle species, the Irwin’s Turtle.
Discovered in one of Steve Irwin’s crocodile catching trips with his dad in the Burdekin River, Irwin’s turtle or the Elseya irwini is named after its discoverers. It has a distinct pale yellow coloring that extends to the top of its crown and can breathe through its cloaca.
Who is the Crocodile Hunter?
Steve Irwin, nicknamed The Crocodile Hunter, is remembered for his vast love for animals, especially reptiles. Even as a wee boy, he showed his talent in dealing with animals as he caught his first venomous snake at the age of six. In addition to that, Steve became known as a frequent latecomer to their school as he’d often beg his mom to stop driving so he could rescue a lizard.
Steve Irwin’s utter adoration for wildlife showed itself from his childhood to his passing. At nine years old, he aided in catching problem crocodiles, and by eighteen years old, he’d spend most of his day working in a wildlife park named Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, maintaining the grounds and looking after the wildlife. Moreover, he dedicated numerous months to staying in the remote areas of far north Queensland to catch crocodiles for the government of Queensland.
After marrying his wife, Terri Raines, they began to film a wildlife documentary as they dealt with a problem crocodile in the far north of Queensland. The wildlife documentary soon gained traction, birthing the famous The Crocodile Hunter.
With Steve Irwin and Terri hosting the show, The Crocodile Hunter became a massive international success, running for five seasons before its end. Tragically, he passed in 2006. He has received numerous awards that honor his life’s work, may it be before or after his passing.
His achievements include recognition as the Tourism Export of the year, receiving the Australian Government Centenary Medal, Honorary Professorship, Queensland Greats Award, and even discovering a new turtle species called Irwin’s Turtle. (Source: Australia Zoo)
The Irwin’s Turtle and Its Discovery
On one of his crocodile catching trips on the Burdekin River in 1990, Steve Irwin and his father, Bob Irwin, spotted an unusual turtle they’d never seen before.
Now known as the Elseya irwini, Steve took pictures of the turtle before sending the images to John Cann, an esteemed Australian herpetologist. Cann then collected the specimen and named it Elseya irwini or Irwin’s turtle after its discoverers. (Source: National Aquarium)
Endemic in the upstream reaches of the Bowen and Broken rivers, Irwin’s snapping turtle can be spotted by its unique pale yellow discoloration on its head that extends to the top of its crown. In addition to that, the turtle is also a cloacal respirator, wherein it diffuses oxygen in and breathes out carbon dioxide.
With that said, Irwin’s turtle remains to be one of the most vulnerable animals with damming and water management projects as they require specialized habitats that provide well-oxygenated quality water and a continuous flow. (Source: Urannah)