4,000 endangered spiny softshell turtle hatchlings released back into the Thames River

A spiny softshell turtle hatchling. UTRCA

Although 2020 might not be the best year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) said it was a good year for an endangered turtle species.

The UTRCA said its Turtle Team has released more than 4,000 endangered spiny softshell turtle hatchlings back into the Thames River.

The hatchlings emerged from eggs collected from sites along the Thames River and incubated at the UTRCA Watershed Conservation Centre (WCC).

Scott Gillingwater with two adult softshell turtles. UTRCA
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The UTRCA said that because of staff, volunteers and sponsors, such as Dispenser Amenities, 2020 was one of the top three years on record for hatchlings released by the Turtle Team.

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Due to COVID-19, fewer UTRCA staff members and volunteers were available to collect, protect and incubate eggs and the little ones faced extreme heat in July and flooding later in the summer.

The conservation authority also highlighted other threats the baby turtles continue to face, like predators, poachers and nests being crushed by human recreational activities.

The conservation authority is also crediting London business Dispenser Amenities for its continued support throughout the pandemic.

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“We see the work that (UTRCA species at risk biologist Scott Gillingwater) and his team are doing as vitally important to the survival of spiny softshell turtles in the Thames River ecosystem,” said Ian Wallace, the CEO of Dispenser Amenities.

“Through the ingenuity and hard work of Scott’s team, this species has been given not only a chance of survival but also, hopefully, a chance to thrive.”

Dispenser Amenities staff releasing turtles. UTRCA

In addition to providing funding, the UTRCA said Wallace and the staff at the company’s London office all participated in the team’s species-at-risk activities, including visiting the WCC lab to measure and weigh hatchling turtles and helping to release the animals back where their eggs were originally found.

“Dispenser Amenities is the type of small business that cares about the environment, their community, and their staff,” said Gillingwater.


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