Sam Arevalo of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority holds up two rarities: An albino baby snapping turtle and a two-headed map turtle.
© Mike Hensen/The London Free Press
Sam Arevalo of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority holds up two rarities: An albino baby snapping turtle and a two-headed map turtle.
It's a hatching season unlike any other for the Turtle Team at the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA), whose main goal is to repopulate endangered turtle species like the spiny softshell turtle and others.

Scott Gillingwater, a species at risk biologist for UTRCA, says it's been a successful hatching season with the roughly 4,500 spiny softshell turtles they'll be raising -- and some unique newborns including a two-headed map turtle and six albino snapping turtles.

"That could be genetic, it could be pollutants, but I think the reason we're seeing more than typical is because we are being successful in our efforts. We're bringing in more eggs. There's always a higher chance the more eggs you have," said Gillingwater.



Samantha Arevalo, species at risk assistant, says going into work feels like Christmas morning everyday as her team waits with excitement for more hatchlings.

"There's some level of wonder to it because you don't see it often," said Arevalo.

Although the two-headed map turtle and six albino snapping turtles are beautifully unique to this year's season of hatchlings, the chances of their survival to adulthood once they're in the wild, is slim.

But there is still hope for the hundreds of other hatchlings.

Gillingwater is urging people to help save the turtles.

"The more we can do to create natural habitat, restore some of the lost habitat and just look out for them on roads and pathways," says Gillingwater.

He adds that if you see a turtle on the road, it's best to move it to the side if safe to do so, but if you see a turtle in its natural habitat, it should be left alone.

If you would like to help support the Turtle Team in its repopulation projects, learn more here.