Three Rivers Parks Studies Medicine Lake’s Spiny Softshell Turtle
The Three Rivers Park District is doing something it’s never done before: it’s studying Medicine Lake’s spiny softshell turtle to ensure the turtle population is healthy.
Medicine Lake is a prime nesting spot for the spiny softshell turtle. The Three Rivers Park District and St. Thomas University have monitored the spiny softshell turtle for the past two years.
“They have a radio transmitter on them that looks like a yellow box, bolted to the back of their shell,” explained Three Rivers Park District Wildlife Manager, John Moriarty.
A Winter Dive
This winter, researchers wanted to get a better look at the turtle habitat on the lake, so they called in ice divers.
Eight divers went into the water while 25 other people stayed above the surface to make sure things were safe.
Divers worked in teams of two, diving 20 feet until they hit the bottom. They could only stay in the water for 15 minutes at a time because of the cold temperatures. It was dark, but they did manage to locate some turtles.
Spiny softshell turtles are mainly river turtles, but you can find them in larger bodies of water like Medicine Lake.
“They found 7, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but only 1 of the 7 had a radio on it,” said Moriarty. He estimates there are about 110 spiny softshell turtles hibernating in the lake.
The purpose of the research is to determine what’s needed to make sure the turtle population keeps thriving in Medicine Lake.
The Three Rivers Park District received a $250,000 dollar grant from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
The popular turtles also have a Facebook page if you’re looking for more information: https://www.facebook.com/turtlesofmedicinelake/