A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to be invited to photograph and participate in a turtle release at Rondeau Provincial Park. When it comes time for turtles to lay their eggs in the sandy beach, researchers and volunteers collect the eggs from new nests for research and protection from predation. Turtle nests often fall victim to raccoons and other animals looking for an easy meal. After collecting the eggs they are identified and placed in incubation chambers until they hatch.
Hatched turtles are then measured, weighed and tagged. Tagging allows researchers to understand the history and movement of turtles captured years or decades later. Once the baby turtles are strong enough they are released back into the wild in appropriate habitats. Ric Arthur, a long time supporter of the park, often shuttles the research team out to remote locations by boat. Ric attended one of my Wildlife and Bird Photography Workshops at the Rondeau Visitor’s Centre this summer and invited me along for a release!
How could I refuse? I met Ric and the “Turtle Team” one afternoon to release around 100 baby turtles. On this day we had Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtles, Northern Map Turtles, Snapping Turtles and Painted Turtles. I was particularly excited to see so many Spiny Softshell Turtles being released. This species is at risk and not often seen when out on my photography excursions.
A big thanks goes out to Ric and the Rondeau Park Turtle Research Team for letting me be part of your experience. Here’s a few of the images I captured!