On a pleasantly windy day on the north Bruce Peninsula, volunteers and conservation staff gathered at Baptist Harbour Nature Reserve to clean up the shoreline. With water lapping at the dolostone, shorebirds flying overhead and the orange cedars surrounding us, we explored the property in search of washed up garbage and evidence of dumping.
Baptist Harbour Nature Reserve is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including Ontario’s only venomous snake, the Massasauga rattlesnake. Although we didn’t see any, we conducted our cleanup carefully to avoid surprising any unsuspecting Massasaugas.
Cleaning up the shoreline, Credit: Smera Sukumar
With the help of our volunteers, we filled three garbage bags with fishing nets, various plastics, paper products, glass and helium balloons. As this reserve doesn’t have a formal trail, we suspect that most of the garbage we found was washed up from Lake Huron. It’s important to remember the consequences of your actions when you let go of a helium balloon after a birthday party, or leave a glass bottle on the beach. You never know where it will end up.
Stephanie Muckle, Nature Reserves Assistant, with a bag of garbage, Credit: Smera Sukumar
Since most of the Bruce Peninsula shoreline is developed, this secluded property is a haven for nesting shorebirds. And abundant reefs and shelter for fish are found just off shore. The day was a success and we left knowing that we had created a safer, cleaner habitat for the reserve’s wildlife.
Syrphid fly (bee mimic) and millipede, Credit: Smera Sukuma
If you are interested in helping us maintain our nature reserves, check out our events calendar where we post many opportunities for you to volunteer, explore our properties and learn more about the biodiversity that surrounds you!
Smera Sukumar is Ontario Nature's conservation science assistant