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RBG sends tiny turtles back to the wild

RBG sends tiny turtles back to the wild

If you’ve been noticing the pitter-patter of little feet in Cootes Paradise and Grindstone Creek marshes these days, there is a good reason for it.

Royal Botanical Gardens workers have released more than 130 newly-hatched turtles over the past several weeks as part of an ambitious effort to help jump-start turtle populations on the RBG-controlled lands.

Earlier this year, workers gathered eggs from several nests and placed them in incubators to optimize conditions for them to hatch.

Now most of those eggs have hatched and northern map, snapping and Blanding’s turtles have been returned to the wild.

RBG workers have done this before in previous years, but this year was notable for the variety of species involved.

Kathryn Harrison, species at risk biologist with the RBG, says about 60 snapping turtles did not hatch at all and close to 20 others had abnormalities.

« There was one nest that didn’t hatch, there was a second nest that several of the hatchlings that did start to emerge were misformed, and some of the ones that hatched died shortly after. »

That’s an interesting finding, she says, because health issues with snapping turtles can be a sign of contamination issues in an area. But she says « the finding on its own would not be conclusive. »

mmcneil@thespec.com