Eastern Box Turtle and Diamondback Terrapin
By Tuesday morning, June 4th, all Massachusetts SouthCoast turtles were on the move in nesting sites. At dawn, we encountered snappers and painted turtles digging near wetlands. As the sun rose, we found diamondback terrapins at Buzzards Bay nesting sites and Eastern box turtles nesting in the same general location.
Female Eastern Box Turtle on Nesting Run
This lovely lady crawled just upland of the Aucoot Cove barrier beach as she scratched the ground for a suitable nest. She sported the most dazzlingly bright yellow carapace.
Female Diamondback Terrapin on Nesting Run @ Cove
We spotted female Terrapin #70 scratching the compacted, graveled path at The (Hammetts) Cove private dock. The marginals along her entire front quadrant had been broken in an earlier encounter with a vehicle. During our longitudinal study of terrapins on the SouthCoast, we learned that this pathway had once been a dense nesting area for threatened diamondback terrapins before it was compacted and graveled by The Cove. Since then, terrapins have largely been unsuccessful in penetrating this hardened surface. Each year the number of viable nests at the Cove decreases.
Nesting Diamondback Terrapin @ Aucoot Cove
Back at the Aucoot Cove barrier beach for a second morning patrol, the Turtle Journal team discovered a 13-year-old female nesting a few feet upland of the nursery salt marsh. Terrapin #68 had not been observed previously and was unmarked.
Female Diamondback Terrapin on Nesting Run @ Aucoot
As Terrapin #68 headed back into Buzzards Bay, she paused to survey her barrier beach, hoping that the sign hovering over head truly does mean that this fragile spit will be preserved as a wildlife refuge for this threatened species.
Rufus Shows How to Herd Terrapins
An integral member of the Turtle Journal team, Rufus ensures that turtles are protected while on land and they make it back safely into the bay. She notes that almost any dog can herd sheep or cattle, but it takes a special canine to herd turtles.