Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) : Institut de recherche du Mersey Tobeatic

MTRI - Projects - Wetland - Blanding's Turtle Nest Monitoring


MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.

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Backyard Biodiversity

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How You Can Help - Blanding's turtles

It's a very important time of year for turtles in Nova Scotia - nesting season!  During this time of year, turtles are much more likely to be on the move to nesting locations and sometimes their journey requires them to cross busy roads.  Please keep an eye open for any turtles while driving - road fatalaties are a very serious threat to all turtle species!

If you choose to help a turtle cross the road, all you need to do is move the turtle to the shoulder of the road in the direction it was already travelling.  Please do not relocate the turtle far from where you found it - the turtles know their destination, and moving them may make their journey even longer and more risky.

Be sure to only help wildlife on roadways if it is safe for you to do so.  Be aware of your surroundings, pay attention for traffic, and use your four-way flashers if stopping on the road.  

Contact us at MTRI if you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities helping Blanding's turtles.

What's the story on Blanding's Turtles?

Blanding’s turtles live in southwestern Nova Scotia in three small populations on the Mersey and Medway watersheds (Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, McGowan Lake and Pleasant River). Recently, new concentrations have been located on the Medway River and in the Tobeatic Wilderness Area.  Blanding’s turtles have been listed as Endangered under both the federal Species at Risk Act and the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act. The listing is in part due to their small population size and limited distribution in the province. Since 1969, approximately only 300 individual adults have been identified, most within the three currently known populations. Unconfirmed sighting reports suggest that additional populations may exist elsewhere in the southwest region of the province. Searching for new populations is a labour intensive undertaking, requiring the help of many volunteers. Our ongoing projects employ researchers and volunteers to protect nests from predators, monitor known populations, learn more about newly discovered areas and follow up on public sighting reports to find new locations of Blanding’s turtles.

  Photo Credit:  Jeffie McNeil

You Can Help!

Want to help with our research and recovery?  There are many ways you can get involved!

  •  Volunteer:  If you are interested in assisting with Blanding's turtle nest protection, hatchling emergence, population suverys or radio-tracking turtles, contact us at 902-682-2371 or email   

Check out a short video of  'Fern' the Blanding's turtle digging a nest on the MTRI Youtube channel. Blanding's Turtles nest in June and the hatchlings tend to start emerging in September. 

Visit the Blanding's Turtle pages on Nova Scotia's Species at Risk Conservation and Recovery website at, or our Healthy Lakes and Wetlands for Tomorrow: A Landowner Stewardship Guide for Species at Risk for more information on this species and helpful tips to aid in conservation and recovery.


Blanding's Turtle Nest Protection, Hatchling Emergence, Distribution and Monitoring.

Blanding’s turtles in Nova Scotia are listed as Endangered under both the federal Species at Risk Act and the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act. One of the concerns for this long lived (80+ years), slow maturing (20+ years) species is the lack of young adults in the population.  Raccoons are the primary nest predators and their populations may be unusually high in human inhabited areas (i.e. campgrounds and communities).  Rates of predation of unprotected nests are variable but can reach 100%. An annual volunteer-based nest protection program was established in Kejimkujik and later expanded to populations outside the park to engage the public in helping to protect and care for Blanding’s turtle nests.

Blanding's turtles occur in the southwest region of Nova Scotia but the extent of their range is still not well understood. They exist in three small populations and a few smaller concentrations. Until the mid 1990’s, the only known population occured in Kejimkujik. Two new populations outside the park were discovered in 1996-7 and have been monitored regularly since their discovery.  In 2006, volunteers Harold and Diane Clapp discovered a small concentration of Blanding’s turtles in the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and in 2012, they discovered another concentration on the Medway River. This ongoing project employs researchers and volunteers to monitor known populations, learn more about newly discovered areas and follow up on public sighting reports to find new locations of Blanding’s turtles.



Photo Credits:  Wesley Pitts


Project objectives

Nest Protection and Hatchling Emergence:

Distribution and Monitoring:


Photo Credits:  Jeffie McNeil



Nest Protection (June): 

Hatchling emergence (September - October): 

Distribution and Monitoring:


2014 Results

Nest Protection (June):

 Hatchling emergence (September - October):

Distribution surveys:

Monitoring known populations:


Years of Data

Nest Protection:

Distribution and Monitoring:



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