‘Adopt-a-Turtle’ would help Misery Bay Park fund research into turtle die off

MISERY BAY—In response to the threatened turtle population at Misery Bay Provincial Park, the Friends of Misery Bay (FOMB) are working on developing an adopt-a-turtle campaign to help raise funds to ensure continued monitoring of the problem.

“The idea came from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),” explained FOMB vice chair Gaynor Orford. “Since learning of the troubled turtle population in the park, we (the board) thought it would be a good idea to raise funds through the adoption of turtles, similar to the WWF campaign.”

The FOMB board will be meeting later this week to continue discussions on the adopt-a-turtle campaign, but Ms. Orford is hopeful that the campaign could make a difference if the board moves ahead with the idea.

“Through the adopt-a-turtle program we would be able to purchase equipment to help monitor the turtle population or possibly hire someone to conduct park research and monitoring,” explained Ms. Orford.

Though there was a Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) park ecologist monitoring the turtle population this past summer, Ms. Orford explained that this might not be the case in the future and that the program could be a way to raise funds to continue the research that was being conducted.

The Expositor previously reported that an MNR park ecologist discovered 50 dead adult turtles—10 painted turtles and 40 Blanding’s turtles—throughout the spring and summer at Misery Bay Provincial Park.

The cause of these deaths is still unknown, however Jacqueline Litzguz, a herpetologist (a researcher who studies amphibians and reptiles) with Laurentian University working on discovering the cause of death of the turtles told The Expositor that she and her team have a few theories including predation and a virus that affects reptiles known as ranavirus.

“Personally, I was really shocked when I learned about the declining turtle population,” commented Ms. Orford. “The summer before we had so many visitors to the park that were commenting on all the turtles they saw. I was shocked that so many were found dead after the year before when the population seemed to be so strong.”

The Misery Bay turtles are now hibernating for the winter, but Ms. Litzguz and her team will be conducting research throughout the winter with the hopes of determining the cause before spring.

Robin Burridge