22 Pelee Island nature fun facts from our friends at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to get you started in exploring sustainability on Pelee Island.
Pelee – The Island
1 – Pelee Island is very nearly the southernmost place in Canada! Middle Island, a tiny nature reserve a few kilometres south of Pelee, takes the title of southernmost point.
2 – Pelee Island is in the Carolinian Zone, one of the most species-rich biodiverse regions in Canada!
3 – Pelee Island at one time, was actually 3 islands connected by wetlands.
4 – Pelee Island was drained in the late 1800s. NCC recently restored land once drained for agriculture back to wetland habitat on its Florian Diamante Nature Reserve. This newly created 62-acre wetland is part of what used to be known as Big Marsh, where it met one of the original rocky islands.
5 – Water levels in the marsh are managed by a water control structure called an Agri-drain. When completely full, the wetland can hold back over 330 million litres!
6 – This year NCC will create a 1.5 km trail around the wetland, connecting with an existing 4.4 km trail through the Florian Diamante Nature Reserve.
7 – NCC lands comprise close to 50 per cent of Pelee Island’s protected lands, with over 1,000 acres (460 hectares) protected. Read more here.
8 – Point Pelee is famous as a bird migration hotspot, but many of the same birds also pass through Pelee Island. This gem is a great spot for birdwatchers hoping to avoid the crowds.
9 – Pelee Island has amazing clay soils and the berm surrounding the wetland is constructed from clay excavated on site.
10- Wetlands support many beautiful wildflowers on Pelee Island including Monkeyflower, Winged Loosestrife and Arrowhead.
11 – Wetlands provide many important benefits, including flood mitigation, sediment and pollution control and water cycling.
12 – Ducks, ducks and more ducks! Species finding and enjoying the wetland include: Northern Shoveller, Gadwall and American Wigeon.
13 – Pelee Island is home to many rare species, including the endangered Blue Racer snake. You might not expect this prairie and savannah species in a wetland, but it will benefit from the open areas created by the wetland and the many frogs and insects it produces.
14 – Pelee Island is home to three species of salamander: red-spotted newt, small-mouthed salamander and blue-spotted salamander. It is also home to a unique population of unisexual (all-female) salamanders that is dependent on the small-mouthed and blue-spotted salamanders to reproduce. Learn more here.
15 – Many songbirds will also make use of this wetland! Marsh Wrens, Common Yellowthroats and Song Sparrows all love this kind of habitat.
16 – All of Ontario’s turtle species are at risk and the wetland was specially constructed with turtles in mind. Basking bars will allow turtles to sun themselves safely, while deeper excavated areas will provide a safe place for turtles to spend the winter. Who doesn’t want a basking bar?
17 –Plant seeds can survive in the soil for decades, waiting for the conditions to be right! An experiment started in 1879 in Michigan is still going – seeds are germinating after over 140 years in the ground. Learn more here.
18 – NCC is excited to find out what plants may appear in our wetland – there may be seeds from before the original wetland was drained, waiting for their chance. American Lotus is a spectacular wetland plant that grows on the island and may one day appear in the wetland.
19 – One rare species that has already appeared in the big wetland is Scarlet Ammannia, an endangered plant that only exists in a few places in Canada. Thousands of these flowers appeared only one year after construction!
20 – Wildlife viewing blinds allow you to watch birds and other wildlife without being seen! NCC is planning to install one of these structures at the wetland to welcome visitors.
21 – Other conservation organizations on the island include Ontario Parks, Ontario Nature and Essex Region Conservation Authority. Almost 20% of Pelee Island is protected for nature! (link to other organizations?)
22 – You can be a part of it! NCC is hosting a volunteer event on May 29 to plant wetland plugs and baby trees. Sign up here: https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/what-you-can-do/conservation-volunteers/events/
Larger Copy of NCC Pelee Island Trail Map