The Gleaner
EnvironmentNews

Families help save baby turtles in Dundee

Alina McGuire and Fiona McKellar

Did you know that almost zero percent of turtle eggs laid in Quebec hatch successfully? The Comité ZIP du Haut-Saint-Laurent is trying to better these numbers by improving turtle habitats and by helping citizens, towns, and municipalities to protect turtle nests during breeding season.

Around 18 people, including 11 children, took part in a workshop on June 30 to build protective coverings to help keep turtle eggs safe from predators. The activity took place in the national wildlife area in Dundee in partnership with les Association des membres et amis pour la protection de la réserve nationale de faune du Lac-Saint-François (AMAPRE).

In small groups, participating families built wooden frames with escape routes or notches cut into the frame. These were then covered with wire mesh. When placed over turtle nests, the frames will help keep predators from disturbing and eating the eggs.

Martin Larochelle, an environmental technician with the Comité ZIP HSL, explained that 12 turtle species can be found in Quebec, including seven species in the immediate region, as well as one other species that can be found near Champlain Lake. He says the most dangerous time for the developing turtles is right after the eggs have been laid.

“I was surprised by how many different species of turtles there are here, and that almost no baby turtles hatched from their eggs,” said a nine-year-old girl who built a turtle nest protector with her mom and brother. “I was glad to help save the baby turtles,” she added.

 

Around 18 people helped save baby turtles by building turtle nest protectors during a workshop led by the Comité ZIP du Haut Saint Laurent at the national wildlife area in Dundee on June 30 PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

The Comité ZIP HSL received $113,000 in funding from the St. Lawrence Action Fund (SLASF), which is part of the St. Lawrence Marine Biodiversity Program (SMBP), and the Quebec government through the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) for four projects, including those that impact turtles.

The organization held six workshops to build turtle nest protectors in different municipalities. A total of 15 new turtle sunbathing platforms will also be installed at different locations in the region. Other partners in this initiative include the municipalities of Les Coteaux and Saint-Anicet, as well as the cities of Candiac, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and Vaudreuil-Dorion, and the MRC de Beauharnois-Salaberry.

The Comité ZIP HSL also received funding to do three other projects to help local ecosystems by reducing pressure caused by invasive plant species, by increasing biodiversity, by restoring natural environments, and by protecting shore banks from erosion.

These projects will take place on Île Perrot, on the Île Dondaine, and the Île de la Grosse Pointe in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

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