Australia is home to about 23 species of freshwater turtle. All but one of these species belong to the family Chelidae, which is found only in Australasia and South America. These long-, snake-, or side-necked turtles retract their head and neck beneath their shell by folding it to one side, rather than drawing their head backwards as most of the world’s species of turtles and tortoises do.
Australia also has six species of marine turtles but lacks the truly land-based tortoises that occur on all other continents except Antarctica. Only three marine turtles occur regularly in Sydney waters, the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead and the Leatherback.
North American species of freshwater turtles have also been found in the Sydney region, probably as a result of people releasing imported pets into local waterways.