ANSWER – Advocates for the North Shore Water and Environmental Resources
Research beginning in June 2017 and continuing today has made an exciting discovery. There is a large population of Blanding’s turtles in the Township of North Shore. The true size of this turtle sanctuary is still under investigation and the number of animals found continues to grow with over 50 individuals being identified to date. The natural habitat is a pristine wetland complex and became the subject of a university ecological study examining the population and spatial ecology of Blanding’s turtles. The size and distribution of this rare population was largely unknown at the beginning of the study but could be among one of the largest Blanding’s turtle populations in Canada with numerous critical nesting and overwintering sites scattered across the area. This discovery is important as the Great Lakes population of Blanding’s turtles were recently up-listed to Endangered in Canada due to many threats, including habitat alteration and destruction. Consequently, protecting remaining Blanding’s populations is critical.
Blanding’s turtles are a long lived species with lifespans greater than 80 years. The turtles do not reach sexual maturity for at least 20 years. A large population of mature adults indicates that this population has existed for centuries and that the ecosystem they inhabit is unique and a special sanctuary. With this recent discovery of a species at risk of extinction comes the obligation to protect this environment and make it a conservation reserve to ensure this irreplaceable natural resource remains healthy. This area and population should become an education and research resource for years to come.
Mark and recapture surveys are a technique used by researchers to estimate the approximate size of a population. Currently 52 turtles have been found and less than half have been recaptured which makes it difficult to calculate the population size with reasonable certainty. A rough estimate based on the current data indicates a population of at least 70-80 turtles and could be larger.
Did you know that Ontario is home to 8 native species of turtles, and that all 8 are now at risk? The most recent addition to this list is the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta). The painted turtle pictured above is only 2 years old!
This is an endangered spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) that is about 8 months old. It is estimated that only 1 in 100 turtle hatchlings will make it to adulthood, so every turtle matters!
Turtles are ectotherms. This means that that they need to use outside temperatures to regulate their own body temperatures. This is why you see turtles basking on sunny days.
Algoma district is home to many reptiles and amphibians that are not turtles. This is a mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus), an aquatic salamander. They are primarily nocturnal, so during the day when they are not active they can usually be found hiding under rocks.
Bruce Power is taking environmental initiatives that help turtles. Electric cars are a great way to lessen our impacts on the environment that have contributed to declines in animal population. Moving turtles across the road also reduces mortality!
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