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The Endangered Turtle With An Iconic Punk Hairstyle

A few spiky algae form the unique mohawk of this turtle, which unfortunately is an endangered species.

In the oceans of Australia lies a unique and very special turtle. Named "the 1 cent turtle" by the locals, this species was popularly sold at pet stores during the 60s and 70s. Due to little knowledge, hatchlings of this turtle were widely sold all over Australian pet stores. Intrigued by this unique turtle, John Cann, an Australian reptile expert, decided to dive into the origins of the species.

This wasn't an easy task, mainly because the tortoise population had declined considerably following its popularity as a pet. Observing and locating the Elusor macrurus turtles was complex until Cann discovered a specimen in Queensland's Mary River. Once he found the first one seen in a long time, the research began. The Mary River turtle is one of Australia's largest freshwater turtles, weighing around 9 kilograms and measuring almost half a meter.

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This species is believed to have diverged from other animals about 40 million years ago and is possibly the last of its kind. In addition, it is capable of living up to 100 years and reproducing at 20 years of age. Its structure is so particular that it can remain underwater for two days without surfacing. This attracts special attention to it. However, the detail that makes it truly unique and very striking to the eye is its particular algae hairstyle.

The river turtle and its original hairstyle

Nature fans love the punk-style hairstyle that characterizes this turtle. However, it's not its actual hair. As we all know, turtles don't develop body hair or anything like that.

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That gorgeous mane of the Mary River turtle is algae that get stuck on their heads after spending that much time underwater. With time, algae start growing on their shells, their heads, and other parts of their body, as if it were like fur. Combining this unique feature with an interest in bringing attention to endangered species, wildlife photographer Chris Van Wyk captured some images of this turtle and its hairstyle.

Now the photos of the "punk turtle" are going viral and, far from adoring his hairstyle, a campaign of awareness and connection with the habitat that surrounds us is being created. In this sense, photography can change the world, or at least that is Van Wyk's purpose.

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Text courtesy of Ecoosfera

Photos by Chris Van Wyk

Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

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