It was a shell-a-bration after 146 young turtles were released along the Thompson’s Bay Earth Dam just south of Trent University in Peterborough.
“It’s fun. It’s definitely great knowing that they are getting out there instead of someone’s house and it’s cool. They’re really cold and slimy but it’s fun,” said Lyla Elliott who came out to help release the young turtles.
The turtles were found nesting near the Trent canal dam in May, which is currently under construction.
“They really liked the loose gravel to dig the nest into, and part of our assessment, we determined that we left a suitable nesting depth of gravel throughout the entire length of the dam so that now, they can nest anywhere along the dam,” said Chris Strand, Habitat Assessment biologist with Parks Canada.
The eggs were laid in late May and a couple of weeks later were transferred to the nearby Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre where they were incubated.
“These are snapping turtles and they are a species at risk — they are a special concern in Ontario. In Thompson’s Bay, they are doing quite well but in Ontario, they are special concern and we have to look out for the protection of that species,” said Strand.
Parks Canada, which is repairing the dam, says it’s important to ensure wildlife aren’t impacted during construction.
“It needed some rehab so we’ve strengthened it. We’ve removed the vegetation, we’ve strengthened the water side as well and now, we are restoring it with a seed mix of grasses,” said Natalie Austin, the acting external relations manager for the infrastructure program with Parks Canada.
Nature will now take its course and allow the turtles to nest and grow up.
Dam repairs are expected to be completed by the end of September.
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