Ontario Nature Blog

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Cleaning up the Bruce Peninsula shoreline

Credit: Smera Sukumar

Credit: Smera Sukumar

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

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

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 Sukumar

Syrphid fly (bee mimic) and millipede, Credit: Smera Sukumar

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_profile_photo_Altberg_Wildlife_Sanctuary_Nature_Reserve_Salamander_Sleuthing_event_16_4_2016_0508_lowres_Noah_ColeSmera Sukumar is Ontario Nature’s conservation science assistant


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  1. Carl Samsons

    Stumbled upon this blog (http://naturescharms.ca) and hoping to track down the photographer. I gather he/she is from Ontario, so wondered if anyone here know who it was?

    • Smera Sukumar

      I am the person who wrote the blog and the photographer. Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Neil

    Note sure about “orange cedars”, but I do concur about the unrealized effects of letting go helium balloons. For several years, I stayed a week each May at the Cabot Head Lighthouse, over on the Georgian Bay side of the northern Peninsula, as part of their Assistant Lightkeeper program. I would often walk the cobblestone shore and never ceased to be surprised at how may balloons (with attached streamers) washed up, often in big clumps… and that’s just a one spot on Georgian Bay. At work, back in the GTA, they think I am a party-pooper when I suggest not ordering clusters of balloons to promote events. But i have seen what happens when they land, as they always will, and I can only guess at the horrors to any wildlife who get entangled in them.

  3. Sibylle

    Yes and the same goes for one use plastic water bottles. Is there a need for them at all? They are such a blight. I did a shore line clean up in th early spring on a non bathing beach near Mc Gregor Park /Lake Huron.he two families 2 adults and 3 young children filled 4 garbage bags with plastics ,mainly bottles within 2 hours .

    On a lighter side I do enjoy seeing these gorgeous spots on the nature blog.Thanks

  4. jan pugsley

    Smera, I wish to thank you for the excellent write up and images. It brings back memories of a fun day in the fall. It was a pleasure to join you and Stephanie on this venture in my neighbourhood. I am thankful that Baptist Harbour Nature Reserve is protected by Ontario Nature. I have seen the damage ATVs and other vehicles can cause on our wilderness on the Bruce Peninsula. If you need further help in the future in finding the local dump, let me know.

  5. Aubrey Ferguson

    Could “orange cedars” = tamaracks?

    I’ve come to the conclusion that clean-ups while ‘fun’ are not the solution as they do not get at ‘root cause’. We need to be doing the less fun work of influencing our politicians to bring into law more meaningful legislation that will change consumer and corporate behaviours. They should start with a 25-cent deposit on every plastic beverage container and a $1.00 tax on every package of balloons along with a warning that balloons are dangerous to the health of wildlife.

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