Sarnia’s Lake Chipican in Canatara Park is home to a number of huge but rarely seen snapping turtles, including one that a biologist has estimated at more than 100 years old.
This spring nature photographer Ronny D’Haene watched as two of the dinosaur-like creatures emerged from the murky depths to mate, a violent affair he had witnessed once before.
“It’s unbelievable, really, to see them wrestle each other like that. I know it sounds weird, but it looks like she wrestles him until he submits, and keeps at it until all of her eggs are fertilized.”
D’Haene, 63, is a self-taught photographer who has made the wildlife of Sarnia and Lambton County – animals, birds, insects – his specialty.
He is entirely self-taught and picked up a camera seriously for the first time in 2002 following a life-changing accident.
Good wildlife shots are everywhere around us, he says, but patience is required to get them.
On one recent outing to Canatara Park he focused on one small patch of milkweed blooming with flowers. When he emerged hours later he had images of 40 different insect species.
One shot of a jumping spider, reproduced here, was taken from four inches away.
“You just have to be tenacious,” he says. “It’s like what they say about the lottery, if you don’t play you can’t win.”