Stamps draw attention to plight of two of Canada's endangered turtle species

May 22, 2019
2 minute read

They’re intriguing and beautiful in their own way; they play an important role in nature; and, at the age of 80 or more, they can still reproduce. But these exceptionally long-living reptiles breed as slowly as they move.

That’s why it’s important to slow down at turtle crossings: Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles are endangered in Canada. Even a single turtle lost has a severe impact on the overall population.

While their distant ancestors appeared about two hundred million years ago, these turtle species are now in danger of disappearing from our part of the Earth. Released on May 23, World Turtle Day, Canada Post’s new two-stamp Endangered Turtles issue draws attention to these fascinating reptiles and their endangered status.

“I want people to be in awe of these beautiful creatures – and to enjoy the playfulness of the stamps,” says stamp designer Adrian Horvath. “I hope this stamp issue inspires people to find out what they can do to help these species flourish and to preserve their habitat.”

Thanks to conservation efforts, there is still hope for their recovery.

A collectible Canada Post stamp featuring an illustration of an endangered spotted turtle. Part of an endangered turtle stamp collection.

The spotted turtle is one of Ontario’s smallest turtle species – with a shell less than 13 cm long (3.5 cm or about an inch longer than a credit card).

In Canada, spotted turtles are now found in isolated populations only in Central and Southern Ontario. They have disappeared from most of Southwestern and Eastern Ontario, where they were once much more common.

Spotted turtles face several ongoing threats: being killed as they cross roads; the loss or degradation of their habitat, including by invasive aquatic plants that choke the shorelines where they live; being collected illegally; and having their buried eggs stolen by growing populations of predators such as raccoons, foxes and skunks.

A collectible Canada Post stamp featuring an illustration of an endangered Blanding’s turtle. Part of an endangered turtle stamp collection.

The upward curve of the Blanding’s turtle’s mouth makes it look like it’s always smiling.

In Canada, Blanding’s turtles are found in central-southwest Nova Scotia and in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence region of Southern Ontario and Southwestern Quebec. Like the spotted turtle, the Blanding’s turtle is listed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The biggest threat it faces is road mortality, followed by loss of habitat.

This turtle’s dome-shaped shell can reach up to 28 cm (about as long as a standard sheet of printer paper.)

Like all eight of Canada’s freshwater turtle species, these two that are endangered play vital roles in their wetland ecosystems by consuming insects and other invertebrates and by scavenging for dead plants and animals.

New stamps draw attention to the plight of endangered turtles in Canada.

Available now