Biofest attendee turns presenter at the fourth annual Batman’s Biofest

Herpetologist Dr. David Lesbarrers and fellow Biofest presenter Noah Loiselle show attendee a turtle they found in the waters along Batman’s Campground. photo by Lorie Loiselle

SHEGUIANDAH—The many attendees at the 4th annual Batman’s Biofest were in for a special treat this year, as a long time seasonal resident of the campground and past Biofest attendee himself, Noah Loiselle, was one of this year’s presenters, sharing his passion for the snakes of Manitoulin.

“I have been interested in reptiles and amphibians as long as I can remember,” shared 18-year-old Noah Loiselle of Dowling. “My family grew up renting a cottage at Batman’s, eventually having a permanent lot there, and I have been attending Biofest since it started.”

Mr. Loiselle said that he was introduced to Biofest organizer entomologist Dr. Joe Shorthouse by the owners of Batman’s several years ago and what started as a mutual love of nature and its critters turned into a friendship.

He also knew this year’s fellow Biofest presenter herpetologist Dr. David Lesbarrers, after being connected through his biology teacher.

During his presentation, ‘Snakes of Manitoulin: Our Misunderstood Friend,’ Mr. Loiselle talked about the nine of the 17 species of snakes found in Ontario that live on Manitoulin. He described how to recognize them and explained the importance of snakes.

“Snakes are important for the ecosystem—they play an important role,” said Mr. Loiselle. “Snakes have gained a bad reputation from TV, but we need to teach kids that snakes are important.”

Mr. Loiselle said he woke up at dawn on the morning of Biofest and went out in search of a snake to show the youth during his presentation.

“I had been out searching at 6 am, and minutes before Biofest started (at 9:30 am) I found a water snake and was able to catch it,” said Mr. Loiselle. “The kids really loved it. They were so curious.”

Mr. Loiselle explained how he had just returned from a year studying in Ecuador where he had the opportunity to learn about the native beetles, frogs, turtles and snakes.

His passion for reptiles and amphibians has grown through his friendships with both Dr. Lesbarreres and Dr. Shorthouse and Mr. Loiselle hopes to attend Laurentian University next year to study zoology.

Dr. Shorthouse gave his presentation this year on beetles. During his presentation he pointed out that both the largest and smallest insect are beetles.

“If you lined up all the animals in the world every fifth species would be a beetle and every 10th would be a weevil,” said Dr. Shorthouse, before reviewing what a beetle is.

He also reviewed what beetles do on Manitoulin including walking on water, making light, swimming and eating trees and noted how they were the first pollinators on the planet.

Dr. Lesbarreres talked about the difference between reptiles and amphibians. He also spoke of the importance of frogs as biological indicators for both water and land.

“Another cool thing about frogs is that they have been around for over 250 million years,” said Dr. Lesbarreres. “That is something that we need to respect and we need to protect creatures that have been here for that long. There are more than 2,000 (frog) species that are in danger and more than 200 species have gone extinct since 1979.”

Dr. Lesbarreres spoke of diseases which effect frogs around the world as well as the problems that can occur when frog species are introduced into foreign environments.

The 4th annual Batman’s Biofest concluded with a trip to the south beach in search of interesting critters.