The majestic blanding’s turtle (Emys blandingii or Emydoidea blandingii) of Nova Scotia may be unfamiliar to those living outside of Queens and Annapolis counties, where a disjunct population is protected under the Endagnered Species Act. Unfortunately, the population in (and around) Kejimkujik National Park (hereinafter referred to as “Keji” to sound more like a local) is declining. However, concentrated efforts made by dedicated volunteers have helped protect nesting sites, and have successfully reared hatchlings in head-start programs. Continued conservation efforts will hopefully re-establish a self-sustaining population in Keji for this species. Massachusetts has made similar efforts to protect their endangered red-bellied cooter of Plymouth County (click here to read about our experiences with head-starting this species). Head-start programs also exist in Massachusetts for the blanding’s turtle.
Vermont’s state-threatened Eastern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera spinifera) is not a new arrival to the Lake Champlain Region. It is dissimilar looking from typical aquatic turtle species found within New England, and this species has been around since the days of the Champlain Sea going back approximately 10,000 years to the end of the last glaciation period. According to the 2009 Vermont Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle Recovery Plan, the estimated population is only 200-300 individuals.
Lake Champlain’s spiny softshell turtle population is believed to be disjunct from other populations found in the Great Lakes and drainage areas of the Mississippi River. This species is also found due north in the St. Lawrence River, which is Champlain’s northern drainage route via the Richelieu River. Two (possible) distinct sub-populations within Lake Champlain are found at the lower Lamoille River and Missisquoi Bay, and a historic Winooski River sub-population has been documented. Continue reading Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle in Lake Champlain, Vermont→
North American turtles are limited in their Northern range expansion, with only nine species of turtles having Northern range limits extending across the US-Canadian border that lies predominately on the 49th parallel (Table 1) (6). The northern range limit for all turtle species is roughly 50°N, with the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) being found at the highest latitude in North America (7), followed closely by the snapping turtle. This commonality suggests that there is a factor associated with latitude that determines the Northern range limit for all turtle species. Continue reading How Turtles Survive the Winter in New England and Canada→