This August, the Lower Mainland Conservation Field Crew cleared a painted turtle nesting beach of invading vegetation at a lake up the Sunshine Coast. They spent all morning digging and weeding the sand to remove any plants that could interfere with nests.
The western painted turtle is the only native freshwater turtle in BC and is an endangered species. One of the primary factors threatening these turtles is the loss of their nesting habitat. Painted turtles nest in the sand of sunny and south-facing beaches, shorelines and clearings around lowland lakes. But these habitats are often occupied by people, which leads to road and nest mortality as females search further for sites or nest in unsuitable locations.
The nesting site on the Sunshine Coast was installed by the Coastal Partners for Conservation Society and The City of Powell River’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Department. The nesting site isn’t active yet, but there’s hope that it’ll be a safe place for painted turtles to lay their eggs in the future. Hatchlings were released in the lake starting in 2019, but turtles are so long-lived that females aren’t expected to lay their eggs on this beach until 2025.
Turtles are most vulnerable when they are in the egg and hatchling stage. Once the nesting site is in use, volunteers will be needed to monitor populations and protect the nests from being disturbed or harmed. Join the Coastal Painted Turtle Project Facebook page for opportunities to get involved on the South Coast.