Collaboration Bringing Art and Science Together for Conservation

12 July 2017 – Moncton, N.B.

The Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance (PWA) is proud to announce its second year partnership with the Festival Inspire (FI) to bring art activism (or “artivism”) to Moncton for wildlife conservation. The PWA has a long history of environmental stewardship and engagement in the community, focusing on water quality monitoring, aquatic habitat assessment, river restoration, and species-at-risk monitoring. The information gleaned from our scientific pursuits are distributed through scientific reports, social media, and one-on-one engagement with stakeholders and students, but we felt like we were preaching to the choir. We needed an innovative way to reach those not already engaged in conservation activities.

The FI is celebrating its third year bringing art and culture to Greater Moncton, and its positive approach and large following made them an attractive partner to help the PWA reach a new and diverse audience. When our Executive Director, Christine McLauchlan, met with the founders of the FI, sparks flew as ideas of collaboration, conservation, waste reduction, and water conservation developed. When Christine began describing a 2017 project focused on waste reduction (river clean ups) and a first-time microplastic monitoring program for the watershed, Lisa and Matt’s eyes lit up and they declared they had just the artist for the job. Bordalo II was an artist they had been wanting to bring to Moncton for the festival, and his experience using garbage to create sculptural murals would be a perfect fit. Thanks to financial support from RBC’s Blue Water Project, the plan was set into motion.

This week, Bordalo II was flown to Moncton from Portugal and has begun his piece behind the Starving Artist Gallery and Gifts store located at 80 Assomption Blvd in Moncton. He is creating a wood turtle which is a locally found species-at-risk that is heavily affected by pollution near rivers. The semi-aquatic turtles can become entangled in plastic six-pack rings or bags, or ingest small fragments of plastic that look like food. The piece is located along Moncton’s riverfront trail, allowing those connecting with the river to also connect with local conservation initiatives.
The PWA has been monitoring the species for the past three years in the Pollett River subwatershed, and have found the populations here to be healthy. This is good news considering population declines throughout most of their native range. Wood turtles have beautiful orange skin and iridescent shells when wet, so it is understandable why they are taken out of the wild to be kept as pets- however, these actions can have devastating effects on local populations. Taking one wood turtle out of the wild could cause a local population collapse. If you encounter a wood turtle, leave it alone. The only time contact is permitted is if a turtle is crossing a road, in which case you may bring it across the road in the direction it was facing when it is safe to do so. Please contact the PWA if you are aware of a wood turtle being kept as a pet, or find one in need of medical attention.

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