Record-setting Painted Western Turtle found in Regina

The record find is a female Western Painted Turtle. Her shell measures 26.6 centimetres and her discovery came just days after finding another near-record turtle.

Turtle may be as old as the province of Saskatchewan

In Wascana Marsh, researchers found two of the largest Western Painted Turtles ever recorded. (Government of Saskatchewan)

Saskatchewan may not normally be known for its turtle population, but researchers just stumbled upon two of the biggest ever recorded, and they were found in Regina's Wascana Marsh.

The record find is a female Western Painted Turtle. Her shell measures 26.6 centimetres.

"As far as we can tell, this is the largest Western Painted Turtle ever recorded," said University of Regina graduate student Kelsey Marchand in a release. 

Her discovery came just days after finding another near-record turtle. 

"It makes us hopeful that this is a sign of a healthy population," she said. 

The turtle may also be as old as the province of Saskatchewan, though it hasn't been confirmed.

"Turtles are long-lived and slow growing. These two big turtles were likely in Regina when the Riders won their first Grey Cup back in 1966 and they just may have been here when Saskatchewan joined Confederation in 1905," said Ray Poulin, a scientist at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

The turtles were carefully measured by researchers, their DNA taken and both were fitted with miniature radio transmitters. They were released back into the marsh near where they were captured. 

The radios will allow researchers to track the two turtles as they move, mate, and lay eggs. They may even find where the turtles go in the winter. 

Western Painted Turtles are one of only two types of turtles found in the province. They are most commonly found in Wascana Marsh, Buffalo Pound Provincial Park and the Qu'Appelle River.

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