Punks Join Forces To Save Green-Mohawked Turtle

Endangered Mary River Turtle gets a hardcore following

A critically endangered species of turtle is getting some help from an unusual place – Melbourne’s punk community.

But then they’re unusual turtles. The Mary River Turtles may sound at first like a pack of twee folksters. But these turtles sport green mohawks, have spikes sticking out of their chins, and breathe through their bums, which also double as their genitals.

So you can probably see the appeal.

On Saturday night, Brunswick’s Bombay Rock played host to a fundraiser called 'Tales from the Pit: Save the Punk Turtle', raising $375 to contribute to the Tiaro Landcare project to help save the turtle.

The turtle made headlines earlier this year when it was named the 30th most endangered reptile in the world by the Zoological Society of London.

With the scientific name Elusor macrurus (possibly not bad as an album title), the Mary River turtle has a head crowned by vertical strands of algae that also grow on its body.

And there’s nothing more punk than being covered in algae.

It also sports face furniture in the form of long fleshy barbels under its chin, which arguably resemble piercings.

The mohawk and chin barbels featured prominently in a series of photos of one turtle by Chris Van Wyk, which caught the public’s imagination.

But punkest of all is its bum-breathing. The turtle has gill-like organs within its cloaca - a multi-purpose orifice used by reptiles for excretion and mating. Breathing through its genitals allows it to stay underwater for up to three days, but may be more of a hindrance for turtle-speed sex.

Measuring up to 40cm, the turtle lives in just one location - the Mary River in Queensland, where you can often hear its distinctive cry of “OI!” (Not really.)

In it’s more of a hippy than a punk, its docile nature helping make it a popular pet historically. In the 1960s and 1970s its nest sites were mercilessly pillaged for the pet trade.

Bands Mr. Stitcher, Undamaged, Commissioner Bourbon and happy morbid played to a packed crowd on Saturday night to give the turtle a boost – also selling badges featuring the rockin' reptile.

"The thing I love about the punk rock community is we all stick together, and now our little mate is in trouble, it's time to stick together for him," Undamaged’s Stevie Galati told the ABC.

As can be seen in the picture above, even some old roadies came out to lend their support. Oh no, sorry, that’s the turtle.

There’s no doubt it's an underturtle. Not only is it seriously endangered, it was also probably the turtle the Teenage Mutant Ninja ones picked on at school.

It’s not the first music-based campaign to back the turtle recently. In June, Cate Blanchett played the Mary River Turtle in a clip by the Wilderness Society (featuring Rosaria Dawson as a singing Ethmia Clytodoxa Moth) calling on humanity to save the ugly creatures of the world.

Featured Image © 2018 Chris Van Wyk/ZSL/PA Wire