duckling docks toronto

Toronto installs duckling docks to save baby animals from drowning in harbour

One local woman's quest to stop baby ducks from drowning in the Toronto harbour has proven fruitful with the installation of four low, thin floating docks — perfect for ducklings who haven't yet been waterproofed by their parents' oils.

PortsToronto announced yesterday that it would be putting four "duckling docks" at water level in the Portland, York, Yonge and Jarvis slips beginning this afternoon.

The move comes in response to reports of ducklings drowning due to a lack of resting places along the waterfront.

One of those reports, published by blogTO earlier this week, came by way of a Harbourfront resident named Alexandra, who said she had noticed at least 15 dead floating babies, and rescued two, over the past three weeks between York and Bathurst.

Alexandra spoke to the Toronto Wildlife Centre and learned that young ducks aren't fully waterproofed as babies, and that they rely on low-to-the-water resting places until their parents can coat them in oil or their own waterproof down grows in.

"After talking to TWC, we realized that since the area doesn't have any low-to-the-water floating docks or anything, babies just die constantly because there's just nowhere for them to rest," she said.

"One day I saw a new family of babies and I spent a couple of hours following them around the marina area trying to figure out if there was anywhere they could go, and there just wasn't."

PortsToronto was quick to respond as news of the dead ducklings spread, and hopes that its new duckling docks will help make good on its commitment to making the harbour "clean, safe and enjoyable."

"Though building such docks is not an obvious area of expertise for PortsToronto, the organization is experienced in the construction of infrastructure and has consulted with the Toronto Wildlife Centre for advice on how best to build the docks and where to place them," reads a release issued by PortsToronto on Thursday.

The port authority worked with Toronto Wildlife Centre to design a duckling dock that would "provide an accessible floating rest area for young ducklings still growing their waterproof down."

Four wooden planks, all 12 inches wide and six feet long with beveled edges to make climbing aboard easier, have now been attached to existing floating docks or dock walls in the aforementioned slips.

Right now, PortsToronto says it is only installing duckling docks where it has jurisdiction, but "is open to having discussions with waterfront partners that own and operate other areas along the waterfront to move or add docks."

"Toronto Wildlife Centre is thrilled that PortsToronto would react to this situation as quickly and as professionally as they have," said Andrew Wight, Rescue and Release Manager at TWC.

"And we expect many other waterfowl will also benefit from these floating docks. This is a relatively simple solution to a large problem."

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