by Lindsay Robbins

Releasing is perhaps one of the most incredible adventures experienced by a KTTC volunteer. After an entire year of healing, many ups and downs and countless hours of hard work its nothing short of miraculous to get the opportunity to return these amazing creatures to their natural environment where they will do what they do best; survive! We take in turtles from all across Ontario and must always keep in mind that a turtle must be released within a kilometre of where they were originally found… Here are just a few of the releases done by the KTTC this year, we are pleased to share their stories with you.

Mojo was brought in by a concerned citizen from Mallorytown, ON, July 2008 with a severely fractured carapace (top shell) needing extensive hardware and extra healing time. Mojo’s “smiling” Blanding’s face was well known by the KTTC husbandry volunteers as she was always quite inquisitive. Mojo spent two long years at the rehab centre and was finally given the “go ahead” by Dr. Carstairs for her journey home to begin.

I had never been to Mallorytown, although am now a huge fan of it’s phenomenal scenery and breathtaking shorelines. It was quite easy to find a suitable release spot for Mojo as there were many bodies of water close to the original recovery spot. After finding the perfect area we released Mojo in the water where she simply seemed to enjoy her surroundings. She pause for a short while, almost unsure as to what to do next until we observed a fish swim underneath her. She must have felt the vibration and disappeared within a few seconds.

Polly is a Blanding’s Turtle that was brought in to the KTTC after being struck by a vehicle and found by a concerned citizen along Hwy 7. After examination Polly was diagnosed with an injured eye and a fracture to the right side of her carapace. Polly remained at the trauma centre until this year, when she was given the OK to go home.

Polly was released near her original capture site at a beautiful wetland in a VERY remote area, it was a great spot and a pleasure to watch her swim into the sunset. Polly is well known at the centre as the “ostrich” turtle, she could always be found basking on her rock with only her head in the water looking straight down to the bottom of her tank, like an ostrich in the sand. We wish Polly many succesfull nesting seasons, and hope she will help sustain the Blanding’s Turtle population in her part of the province!

Marie is a Snapping turtle brought in to the KTTC from Norland, ON where she was found on the road, severely injured and not moving. After examination by Dr. Carstairs, it was discovered that Marie had a broken jaw and was in need of some medical attention. Marie’s jaw was wired together for better healing, and now she is as good as new and able to eat once again 🙂

Marie’s was a great release, as I was assisted by two local Norland residents who showed me all the good “turtle hangouts”! She found a great spot, some new duck friends and an area flooded with her species.

Caraman is a young, or immature, male Snapping Turtle found injured in a parking lot south of Peterborough. Caraman was only just brought in to the KTTC this season, and made a speedy recovery to the small wound on the top of his carapace. When w returned to the original capture location we searched for a suitable release spot but were told by two onlookers that there were in fact NO bodies of water in the area. This is one of the problems that can arise when releasing as turtles may travel quite a far distance.

As the sun set we began to hear a chorus of frogs singing in the distance, a sure sign of water nearby 🙂 As if it were meant to be, we looked to the North and found a pond, although there was no direct path, and to get there we would have to make our way through thick brush and VERY unstable ground … we were two female volunteers, both in dresses ! As KTTC volunteers always do, we rose to the occasion, slid our hip waders over our beautiful dresses and began our trek. After about 10 minutes we made our way through the last bit of brush before seeing water, we both looked at each other to sort of say; ” this view is going to take our breath away” . We were right! As we made our way through it was stunning natural wetland in every direction as far as the eye could see, definitely much larger than we had first expected. It was one of those rare moments in life where you marvel at mother nature and her ability to prevail, and no one even knew it was there 😉 A pleasure to take part in!

Wally is a small male painted turtle, found north of Peterborough, with a smashed shell and dragging one rear leg. Wally’s release was another case of “where is the water”? After exploring for quite some time we were worried that there might not be ANY water close to the site where he was found. If we know nothing else of turtles it’s that they have an amazing ability to overcome obstacles and find a way to survive. As we began travelling a local road we could see what look like a pond in the distance. We approached the area and found a beautiful body of water! The plants were high and we were only able to see the water for ourselves by holding up a digital camera, Wally on the other hand, found the water quite quickly. He was released by Eva, a KTTC volunteer on her first ever release trip 🙂 GOOD LUCK WALLY!!

Igor is a feisty Snapping turtle, found injured on the road trying to bite at the underside of cars as they drove over her, one after the other. A young couple travelling in the area witnessed this sad scene and was determined to help – and they did just that by bringin her into the KTTC! Igor was examined and found to have a large crack on top of her carapace. She stayed at the trauma centre over winter and was given a clean bill of health this spring.

As a long time “snapper” volunteer, I must say it was great working with a turtle who not only snapped each and every time she was handled but never seemed to loose her fight, even with an injury 🙂 She was released in what I like to call “turtle haven”, which is when you find a release spot thats so incredible it gives you chills. The site was about one kilometre from where she was found near Buckhorn. Eva, a vet tech for the centre took pride in letting her go for the last time .. and surprisingly, as she was taken out of the holding take and placed into the water… without snapping 🙂