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Local couple helps turtle population thrive in Rideau Lakes Township

Helping the turtle population thrive one hatchling at a time
WATCH: A couple in Rideau Lakes Township is helping the turtle survival rate, making sure newly-hatched turtles get to water safely.

Anne Marie Batten is referred to as the ‘Turtle Nurse’ and the ‘Turtle Mom’ by her community.

Batten and her husband, Derek McIntyre, have made it their mission to help the baby turtles that hatch in nests across their 600-acre waterfront property on Sand Lake, just northeast of Kingston.

“To me, this is their land and out of respect, we’re going to protect their land and do the very best I can with their babies,” said Batten.

The couple had to learn about turtles — and quickly. Only two days after moving into their home last June, they saw turtle after turtle walking across their property to lay eggs.

READ MORE: Pilot project at 1000 Islands National Park aimed at reducing turtle mortality

McIntyre says they learned a lot from internet searches and local turtle advocate groups across the province.

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The couple quickly started to make nest protectors and soon had more than 30 nests in their yard.

“We watch the turtles when they come in to nest and then we mark the area where they’re nesting and then as soon as they move on, we cover the nest immediately, so then we know whose nest it is because we keep track” said Batten.

WATCH: (Aug. 29, 2019) 1000 Islands park staff launch pilot project to help turtles and educate students

1000 Islands park staff launch pilot project to help turtles and educate students
1000 Islands park staff launch pilot project to help turtles and educate students

Batten is meticulous about tracking the turtles, even making a spreadsheet to help keep the nests on her property organized.

The turtles lay their eggs in June and 60-70 days later, the eggs hatch.

Out of the 35 protected nests this year, Batten and McIntyre anticipate they’ll help nearly 200 hatchlings get to the lake.

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READ MORE: Climate change, human activities take toll on spiny softshell turtles: UTRCA researchers

“It’s [a] pretty amazing feeling,” Batten said. “I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do.

“It’s really exciting for the whole community, too, because Sand Lake is a community and these turtles belong to this area, so I think it’s really exciting to be a part of that.”

Batten has taken to social media to share her turtle journey with the community.

She has started a Facebook group ‘Turtles of Silo Road’ and shares pictures of the turtles and the hatchlings on her personal Instagram using the hashtag #turtlesofsiloroad