Turtles in Ottawa!

This is a collection (work-in-progress) of photos and videos – and some other related content – from the Turtles of Old Ottawa East and South community efforts to support the local turtles.

These efforts are primarily two-fold:

  • Protect nests when they’re laid (generally in June), and,
  • Help the baby turtles get to the water when they hatch (generally in September and October).

Along with this, is informal public education efforts.

Turtles OOES is primarily organized via a Facebook group, but as of last year there is also an email listserv.

Find all the relevant info at: linktr.ee/TurtlesOOES – this also links to some other turtle initiatives in Ottawa, and mini-flyers you can print to help spread the word.

*Note: The Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club (OFNC) is presenting the Turtles OOES group an award on the evening of April 13, and thus this collection is published now even though it is incomplete. Check back for more later!

Turtle Photos (coming soon)

Turtle Videos


Two different mother turtles laying eggs in 2022.

The first is doing their thing beside a nest protector from the day before – which may have been covering a previous unsuccessful attempt at laying, if she came back to same spot to try again.

The second is at children’s play structure, and we called Canadian Wildlife Federation to re-locate the nest afterwards. The next year, it was likely the same turtle laying only a couple metres from the same spot (see the photo of 2023 vs 2022 below).

Spring migration – return of a Snapping Turtle to Fletcher Wildlife Garden from Dow’s Lake, 2024

Adult Snapping and Painted Turtles, at Fletcher Wildlife Garden, 2023


Babies being excavated from their nests in 2021.

The snapping turtle eggs usually take 3 or so months to hatch, and if it gets too cold they might not make it and then could freeze to death over the winter. Here, the Canadian Wildlife Federation digs up a late nest and finds a group of mostly-hatched babies who hadn’t dug themselves out (yet?). Also there’s a short clip of the inside of a second nest with hatched babies, also dug up by CWF (they have a license!)

Baby emerging September 1st , 2023:

Baby turtle emerging from the earth, 2023

Media Coverage

(Oct 2023) CBC Ottawa Morning “Snapping turtle babies get a helping handaudio

(Oct 2023) The OOE Mainstreeter “Meet the baby turtle protectors of the Rideau Riverarticle pdf

OLD (July 2009) – CBC “More snapping turtles spotted in Ottawa: residentsarticle
“… up to as many as 12 at a time here [Old Ottawa East] …”

Description of the group and it’s work, from the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club, upon giving award:

2023 Conservation AwardNon-member: Turtles of Old Ottawa East and South

In recognition of an outstanding contribution by a non-member or group of non-members in the cause of natural history conservation in the Ottawa Valley.

This year the award is presented to Turtles of Old Ottawa East and South (TOOES) for their innovative work in helping to preserve and protect turtles in Ottawa.

Canada has eight species of freshwater turtles, all of which are listed as Species at Risk by the Federal Government. Experts say this makes turtles one of the most at risk groups of wildlife in Canada. While protecting critical habitat for these creatures is paramount, there are other ways to help them. Turtle nests are exceptionally vulnerable to predation, and any turtles that do survive to emerge from the nest, must then navigate their way to the nearest body of water. A daunting task for such tiny creatures.

Putting into practice the mantra of ‘thinking globally but acting locally’, in 2021 a group of residents in the Brewer Park to Brantwood Park area along the Rideau River, banded together to help the turtles. Aware that many turtle nests were being destroyed by predators in this corridor, they built nest protectors to keep eggs safe from predation. A Facebook group (now at over 900 members) linked concerned people together. With so many looking out for turtle nesting sites, word spreads swiftly and volunteers are able to quickly install nest protectors.

Once nest protectors are installed, community members routinely check on them and remove tall plants shading the nest area. Too much shade can reduce the soil temperature and keep the eggs from hatching. In late summer once nests are starting to hatch, volunteers put up signs and write chalk messages on sidewalks to alert walkers and cyclists to keep an eye out for hatchlings that may be on the move, and possibly crossing sidewalks. If hatchlings are found wandering away from the river, they are carried down to the river and released close to water. In 2023 the group installed 40 nest protectors, thus helping ensure more eggs hatch, and the hatchlings make it to water, with a fighting chance of survival. This committed group is taking care of their neighbours – only this time their neighbours are Painted and Snapping Turtles.

This engaged and committed group saw a problem, developed a solution, and is helping to preserve local Species at Risk. They are an excellent example of community conservation at work. For their dedication to protecting local turtle populations, Turtles of Old Ottawa East and South is a worthy recipient of the OFNC’s Conservation Non-Member Award for 2023.

Our group TOOES has worked in collaboration with other efforts, including the Fletcher Wildlife Garden sub-group of the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club, the National Capital Commission (who do the south/east side of the Rideau River), Agriculture Canada (who does the Arboretum), and most closely, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, whose turtle program is led by David Seburn…

Videos from CWF turtle expert David Seburn

All of these long videos have ‘chapters’, which indicate what topic is being discussed at which time in the video. This is useful both to know if you want to watch the video, and/or if you want to jump to certain segments.

Saving Ottawa’s Turtles

April 2022 webinar for Friends of Carp Hills, another group in Ottawa working to protect turtles.

1 hour, 13 minutes.
Also see other videos from Friends of Carp Hills

Turtle Talks Webinar

2021 CWF webinar: David Seburn accompanied by moderated by Caitlin Brant.

1 hour, 29 minutes

Canadian Species Identification

iNaturalist is a ‘citizen-scientist’ method for individuals to contribute to conservation efforts by reporting sightings (not only of turtles, but this webinar focuses on the turtles and how to know what type you are seeing, and how it can help).

59 minutes

Other CWF videos

They have a whole playlist of nine videos about turtles, there is at least one more long webinar with Seburn, as well as some very short turtle ‘PSA’ (Public Service Announcement) videos and a few other ones. Also a four-video French playlist

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