Paddling Point Pelee

Hello again readers! Last week, the BIObus headed as far south as you can go in mainland Canada, to Point Pelee National Park. We went out there to do some aquatic sampling at a few spots in the area: Point Pelee, Ojibway Natural Prairie Reserve, and Rondeau Provincial Park.

Point Pelee is one of the smallest National Parks at only 15km2 and two thirds of this land is marsh. The marsh at Point Pelee National Park is one of the largest areas of marshland left in Southern Ontario. From a visitor’s standpoint, this means that there isn’t a lot of space to park or camp, but there are great walking trails, and you can check out the marsh by canoe, which is what we did to collect some aquatic invertebrate and plankton samples.

View of the marsh from the tower at the Marsh Boardwalk, Point Pelee National Park.
View of the marsh from the tower at the Marsh Boardwalk, Point Pelee National Park.

We had a great time canoeing the beautiful marsh area and used our D-nets, plankton tows, and Schindler-Patalas (or S-P) traps to collect various invertebrates. The marsh is a network of canals through the grasses and cattails, leading to different sized ponds, and we paddled out to the largest of them, named Lake Pond.

Connor, Josh, and I getting ready to take some aquatic samples from our canoes.
Connor, Josh, and I getting ready to take some aquatic samples from our canoes.

The marsh is an important ecosystem for many species, including the spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus), a threatened fish that we were careful not to catch in our D-nets when sampling aquatic invertebrates.  There are also many turtle and frog species to be found near the marsh. We were lucky enough to spot a Northern map turtle on the beach when we disembarked our canoes to sample the earth for some worms.

Northern map turtle (Graptemys geographica) on the beach of Lake Pond.
Northern map turtle (Graptemys geographica) on the beach of Lake Pond.

The marsh at Point Pelee National Park was a beautiful place to do some sampling, and is an important area to be conserved, as it is home to many endangered and threatened species.  We had a great time there, and I definitely recommend checking out the marsh boardwalk or renting some canoes at Point Pelee if you’re ever in the area!

Our canoes on the shore of Lake Pond, full of sampling gear!
Our canoes on the shore of Lake Pond, full of sampling gear!

That’s it for now! Keep reading for more about the field work happening all over Ontario this summer!

-Jesse

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