Time to start Turtle watching and help nesting Turtles! If you are interested in helping out or volunteer, read this list of the most frequent questions and answers.
For additional information or to register, visit our Volunteer page.
What to do if you see a turtle walking around High Park?
Call Turtle Protectors to report the sighting and location.
If possible, stay with the turtle until support arrives. While you are waiting you can educate passerbys about what is happening and why it is important to watch from a respectful distance (between 20 and 30 feet).
If a turtle is on a road, consider helping it across in the direction that it is heading.
Why is protecting turtle nests important?
All 8 of Ontario’s turtles are designated “Species at Risks”. Turtle eggs and hatchlings have always been a food source for animals like raccoons, skunks, and mink but in urban environments like Toronto subsidized predators like raccoons and skunks may predate 100% of all nests. Protecting the nests give eggs a chance to hatch.
Check out this brochure for more information on the importance of protecting turtle nests.
When do turtles nest?
Typically, the nesting season starts at the end of May and goes until mid-July. In High Park, once the wild blue lupines are blooming in the Black Oak Savannah we know it’s time to look for nesting turtles. According to Turtle Biologist, Marc Dupuis Desormeaux, the peak time is from June 7 to June 20 and the super peak between June 10 and June 15.
They usually lay their eggs in the morning or the evening. (Folks spotted a turtle heading back to the pond on their way home for the event!). Turtles love nesting during or after a rain because rain makes for easier digging!
Where to see Turtles in High Park?
On warm days look for turtles basking on logs in the north end of Grenadier Pond or on the muskrat pushups in the tiny bay of Grenadier Pond (where the stairs from the Children’s Garden meet Grenadier Pond). Visit ontarioturtle.ca to help identify what you see.
Watch for turtles in sites where we know turtles have nested before because turtles have site fidelity meaning they return to the same site year after year. In High Park, we know that turtles have laid their eggs in the large grassy field between the castle playground and the zoo (the one next the retention pond), along the park entrances near Ellis Avenue and on the west facing slope of Grenadier (starting at the Maple Leaf Garden and moving south).