Earlier this week both AEI directors went in to the wild of Central Ontario to better understand a project our Canadian turtle-y Placement Partner was working on. We were in for one of the best days of our AEI lives! We happily canoed away from our desks and towards a remote island located in the middle of a wetland. We were loaded down with bug nets, bug spray and a healthy appreciation for the insects that would soon be feasting on our blood. However, the weather had different plans for these black flies, deer flies and horse flies. It was sunny, warm and WINDY the whole day so instead of being covered in horrible war wounds, we only suffered a few bites from the particularly strong fliers.
The Experience we were volunteering with was a post release study that had us face to face with tiny Blanding’s Turtles (cutie-ous maximus). Blanding’s Turtles are one of the cutest (biased) turtles in Ontario, this is mostly because they have a perpetual smile. Protected under the Endangered Species Act, they are threatened provincially and nationally. Interestingly enough it can take them 25 years to reach maturity and lay eggs. Loss of habitat, poaching (for the pet trade) and car attacks rank in the top for reasons they aren’t having the best luck out there.
Our turtle Placement Partner is running a post release study for Blanding’s hatchings that were head started at the Placement Partner’s site. If we can learn more about baby Blanding’s Turtles we can learn more about the big fellas and then learn more about how we can help them grow up safe and happy.
Using radio guided telemetry, hip waders and quick hands (with gloves to keep the leeches off) we looked for the hatchling turtles who were released just a short time ago. With tiny radio beacons attached to their shells we found out that turtles are big fans of NOT being caught by humans. We raced around the swamp listening to the beeping of beacons from turtles very affectionately named things like 007, 010, 001 and 003. We were able to make contact with only one- the rest proved to be little (not quite teenage) ninja turtles. We weighed and measured the one turtle we were able to catch and were proud of the other ones who were so good at their evasive maneuvers. If they could get away from us, surely they would be able to dodge predators.
It was as a fun day of turtling, birding, canoeing, mudding, making up verbs and researching a threatened species. To learn more about the Blanding’s Turtle and how you can help them please visit the MNRs Blanding’s Turtle page! If you would like to volunteer on this Experience or learn more about this Placement Partner please visit the AEI website.
We took some great photos and some thrilling videos which we will be posting soon! So check back!
Keep calm and turtle on!Source: animalexperienceinternational.comom