Coastal Action initiated their Snapping Turtle Monitoring Project in 2020 and it has since continued with funds from Nova Scotia’s Habitat Conservation Fund and Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program. Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) and Eastern ribbonsnakes(Thamnophis sauritus) are listed as special concern and threatened, respectively, under the Species at Risk Act. The main threats to both species are anthropogenic (human-caused) and include road mortality, conversion of aquatic or riparian habitats, persecution, and illegal harvesting. Our research is focused on gathering baseline data onsnapping turtles and Eastern ribbonsnakes throughout the Petite Rivière Watershed, as wellas providing education todispel misinformation, engage stakeholders and reduce anthropogenic threats to both species. The data collected during this project will be used to inform future monitoring and research of these two vulnerable species in Southwest Nova Scotia. Other aspects of this project include:
Visual surveys to confirm Eastern ribbonsnake presence, while training volunteers to survey and identify them.
Snapping turtle population monitoring and baseline data collection through trapping, visual surveys and deploying trail cameras in targeted areas.
Collecting eggshells from previously predated snapping turtle nests to be analyzed for mercury content by project partners the Dynamic Ecology and Environmental Health Research (DEEHR) Group at Saint Mary’s University.
Creation of a map with observations for road crossings, nest sites, mortalities, and ‘hotspots’ where snapping turtles are frequently seen.
Engagement of landowners within Lunenburg County to promote best management practices for conserving reptiles, their habitats, and biodiversity as a whole.
Female snapping turtles nesting. They prefer soft gravel areas (like the side of the road) to dig and lay their eggs.
Egg shell fragments from a predated snapping turtle nest.
Hatchling snapping turtle spotted during the fall emergence season.