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Turtle Project

The Turtle Project

Species: Blanding’s Turtle Emydoidea blandingii

Status: (SARO) Threatened – Ontario
(COSEWIC) Endangered – Nova Scotia

Who? University of Ottawa graduate biology student, Catherine Millar and undergraduate, Nikki Reshke

What? These students are conducting research on the Blanding’s turtle – a threatened species in Ontario. Their research will be used to help protect the Blanding’s.

Catherine and Nikki have fitted Blanding’s turtles with radio tracking devices so they can study the relationship between the Blanding’s and its environment. The young women want to know exactly how much territory the Blanding’s needs for all its functions – including nesting, basking, seeking shelter and hunting for food.

Why? Loss of habitat is a major threat to this species. The more we learn about the Blanding’s behavior within its home range, the better we can manage and help protect it and its habitat.

Where? Grenadier Island, St-Lawrence-Islands National Park, Ontario Canada

Interesting Facts:

  • the Blanding’s lives up to 80 years
  • females do not reach maturity until 15-20 years old; (they can’t lay eggs until they reach maturity)
  • the female may travel up to 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) on land to find the perfect, sandy nesting site
  • a “semi-box” turtle, it has a “hinge” on its plastron (underside) that gives it the ability to tuck its head and limbs inside its shell
  • its bright yellow throat and chin make this gentle turtle appear to be smiling
  • the Blanding’s, unlike most turtles, can swallow food on land as well as in the water; most turtles can only swallow in water
  • this turtle inhabits slow moving or still, shallow waters (with lots of mud and vegetation)
  • it’s found throughout the Great Lakes region and in Nova Scotia (where it is an endangered species)
  • threats to this species include: loss of habitat, automobiles (particularly when females travel long distances in search of sandy nesting sites), collection of hatchlings (baby turtles) for the illegal pet trade
  • the Blanding’s was named after Dr. William Blanding (1772-1857), a doctor and early naturalist in Philadelphia credited with discovering the species
  • sadly, the Blanding’s is extirpated in the area it was discovered by Dr. Blanding, meaning it no longer exists in the wild in that area

Video Credits:

  • Writer: Susan Terrill
  • Camera: Douglas von Rosen
  • Editor: Douglas von Rosen
  • Music: Peter Kiesewalter

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