Turtle Awareness | SON, Bruce Peninsula National Park, and Fathom Five National Marine Park Working Together

The Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park (BPNP/FFNMP) have been working with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) this season to build awareness about turtles. As part of this initiative, we arranged for students from Nawash’s Kikendaasogaming Elementary School to attend a presentation by the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) at the Bruce Peninsula District School in Lion’s Head. The OTCC also visited the Saugeen First Nation to do a presentation to students from St. Joseph’s Elementary School and G.C. Houston Elementary School.

As a follow up to the OTCC presentation, which introduced students (and teachers and parents) to Ontario’s different species of turtles and why protecting turtles is important, BPNP, FFNMP, and SON hosted a Turtle Nest Box making workshop in Saugeen. Members from both Nawash and Saugeen attended the nest box workshop. We also visited the M’Wikwedong Centre to do a presentation about turtle conservation.

At the end of June, Doran and I received a call from a Saugeen First Nation (SFN) community member about a turtle on their property that was possibly laying eggs. There was indeed a snapping turtle that had just made a nest! We investigated a nearby area and found several other nests. Some had already been predated (dug up by another animal). This spot turned out to be a “hot zone” for turtle nests, and we have currently installed 16 turtle next boxes in this area. Since we began protecting the nests, awareness has continued to grow and we hope to be able to protect more nests in this area, and other areas around SFN, next season.

We expect the eggs to hatch in late September, and hope that we may be able to time it right to see some of the hatchlings emerge.

Parks Canada is currently working with SON to get proper signage for turtle crossing areas and for the nesting zones. We hope to attend the SON pow wows this August to help raise awareness and answer questions about these exciting initiatives.

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