It’s a pig, it’s a turtle – it’s a pig-nosed turtle! Meet one of the newest aquatic animal additions to the Vancouver Aquarium. Located in the New Guinea exhibit in our recently expanded space, this strange-looking aquatic creature is unlike any other species of freshwater turtle, and is the only surviving species of a turtle family that has been around for 65 million years. The forelimbs of the pig-nosed turtle are shaped like paddles, which allow it to “row” through the water. These strong forelimbs allow it to occupy a much larger home range than most other freshwater turtles, covering up to 10 kilometers of river.
The pig-nosed turtle’s fleshy snout acts as a snorkel and allows for easier access to the surface. In addition, its unusual snout is equipped with sensory receptors that allow it to locate prey in murky water or sand. The pig-nosed turtle is an omnivore, meaning that it eats both plants and animals, including fruit, leaves, crustaceans, molluscs and insects.
The pig-nosed turtle is found in the freshwater streams of the Northern Territory of northern Australia and the island of New Guinea. While New Guinea may represent only one percent of the Earth’s land area, it has more than seven percent of its plant and animal species, with one-third found nowhere else in the world.
The pig-nosed turtle is listed as a vulnerable species and is under threat from over-harvesting for its meat and eggs. More than 50 percent of the species was wiped out between 1981 and 2011 because of collection for the international pet trade.
The New Guinea exhibit is a new display as part of the Vancouver Aquarium’s recent expansion. Additional details on other new exhibits, spaces and our conservation efforts are found at vanaqua.org/the-big-reveal .
Last Week’s Featured Animal: The Jamaican Fruit Bat.
Each week throughout the summer a new animal will be featured on the AquaBlog focusing on new and unusual marine life at the Vancouver Aquarium. Stay up to date on the latest fish news by subscribing to our RSS feed or following us on Facebook or Twitter.