Malcolm Fenech (6 April 2022)

Turtle research study at Petrie Island

The turtle season is right around the corner and turtles should start basking in the next few weeks at Petrie Island! As many of you know, we will be continuing to research the turtles at Petrie Island in 2022 and here are the projects that we will be running:

1) Continuing my thesis research about why freshwater turtles (painted and northern map turtles) aggregate at basking sites. I will be collecting data for the second half of my project by conducting controlled disturbance trials of basking turtles by canoe and testing the “many-eyes” hypothesis. Fortunately, the turtles at Petrie Island quickly return to basking sites once displacing themselves into the water after being disturbed.

2) Continuing the mark-recapture of northern map turtles and assessing turtles for injuries from motorboats. We had success last year catching over 30 northern map turtles and look to build on this number. However, we will not be capturing painted turtles this summer. Additionally, we will not be painting numbers on the carapace of captured individuals (as seen below from last year). We will be catching the turtles using basking traps as pictured below and will have appropriate signage on them.

3) We plan on conducting nesting surveys every morning during the nesting season to get a better idea of where turtles nest throughout Petrie Island and how this has changed over the years. We will also collect some nests to incubate at the Canadian Wildlife Federation. This conservation work will be coordinated with the Friends of Petrie Island and more details will be released closer to the nesting season. All of our research is conducted with the appropriate permits and approved animal care protocols and we will once again be collaborating with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. If you have any questions, I would love to answer them!

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