[Great] Lakes Roadtrip 2022 – Part 1 of 3

 By: Christine Drader 

From March 21st to 30th Christine from the Turtle Island Conservation and Adopt-A-Pond programs joined Michelle and Annie from the Great Lakes Program on a Great Lakes Roadtrip. They travelled to 10 destinations and met with 11 conservation partners (10 in person and one virtual) to livestream educational conservation content every week day to a pre-registered list of classrooms and First Nations partners province-wide.  

These livestreams were only accessible to those who had pre-registered for the program but now live on the Zoo’s YouTube channel, where they can be accessed by all members of the public here: Toronto Zoo Youtube 

Every day of the trip, Christine wrote a quick diary entry to summarize the day:  

Monday, March 21st  

Today marks the first day of the Great Lakes Roadtrip! Our team packed up our rental vehicle and hit the road to our first stop—Brockville, Ontario. We made sure to make a stop at the Big Apple for lunch and settled into town in the afternoon. Ever excited, we dropped by the The Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing to scope out parking and filming spots for tomorrow. Looking forward to learning about Ontario’s Lake Sturgeon.  

Our road trip crew outside the Big Apple!

Tuesday, March 22nd  

Our first livestream started off at The Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing. We arrived at 9:30am and were toured around the building. We met “Justin Beaver” the beaver on his morning walk to his daytime exhibit, the two otters Oliver and Brock, and, my personal favourite, some awesome reptiles and amphibians including some rescued painted turtles, a black-ratsnake, eastern gartersnake, and some adorable grey treefrogs.  

We returned to the Lighthouse theatre area where The Aquatarium’s beautiful river tank, containing our target species—the Lake Sturgeon. Michelle and Tanis, from the educational department at The Aquatarium, did a wonderful job presenting about this species for our livestream audience. The Lake Sturgeon is Ontario’s largest and longest living freshwater fish species and also a species-at-risk.  

After wrapping up the livestream, we grabbed lunch and continued driving to our next stop—Ottawa, Ontario.  

One of four sturgeon within the river tank looking onto the Lighthouse Theatre at the Brockville Aquatarium.  

Meet the Lake Sturgeon! – The [Great] Lakes Roadtrip Live 

Wednesday, March 23rd 

For our 2nd live presentation, we met with Dr. Steven Cooke from the Cooke Lab at Carleton University. We did our live outside beside the Ottawa River and Dr. Cooke spoke about his work with the American Eel. Although the windy weather proved to be a challenge, we had lots of comments coming in from viewers excited to learn about the eels. 
We carried on our travels to our next stop in Sudbury Ontario. On the way we had wonderful views of the Great Canadian shield, Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing and even a young moose! 

The clear road on the way to Sudbury

.   Eels in the Ottawa River – The [Great] Lakes Roadtrip Live 

Thursday, March 24th  

Today, we had our 3rd live presentation at Science North, in Sudbury. I was delighted to be the host and speak to Meghan, the lead staff scientist, on four amazing “neighbours” to the great lakes: a Northern flying squirrel “Earl”, an Eastern musk turtle “Erno”, a foxsnake “femur”, and a common snapping turtle “Mikinaak”! All of them were wonderful and definitely stole the spotlight.  

I also spoke to Meghan afterwards about how Science North is incorporating Indigenous Knowledge and Science. They have two Indigenous Advisory committees which are directing their efforts. Currently, they are working to provide spoken Indigenous language elements to their animal exhibits.  

After speaking more to the “bluecoat” Science North staff members and exploring the premise, we headed to one last stop in Sudbury—the giant Nickel. A quick group picture there and we were off to our next stop—Sault St. Marie. 

Meet Your Neighbours – The [Great] Lakes Roadtrip Live 

And that is a wrap on the first few exciting days of the #GreatLakesRoadtrip2022.This blog post is 1 of 3 that recap this trip. Be sure to keep an eye out for future blog posts for more exciting stories, pictures behind the scenes, and information about the trip!