Archive for May, 2010

Outer Cape Diamondback Terrapins Gather in Mating Aggregations

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

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Sue Wieber Nourse Juggles Two Females and a Male Terrapin

Turtle Journal visited the principal mating aggregation on Outer Cape Cod Saturday to assess how far along diamondback terrapins have come from winter brumation.  We met up with Barbara Brennessel as we waded into the South Wellfleet cove in search of turtles.

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Male Diamondback Terrapin in Shallows of Mating Aggregaton

The water quality at this time of the year is crystal clear without time for algae formation to cloud visibility.  As adult terrapins enter into mating aggregations on the Outer Cape, they pair up at high tide in the dense salt marsh vegetation ringing the shoreline.  Above, you can clearly identify this male terrapin from its large tail as he patrolled the shallows for a mate.

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Sue Wieber Nourse and Barbara Brennessel with Turtles

We found turtles at both ends of the age spectrum.  Sue Wieber Nourse holds an ancient female terrapin that measures as one of the largest (and oldest) turtles on the Outer Cape.  Barbara Brennessel shows off an exquisitely beautiful young four-year-old juvenile female which was found hiding in the dense vegetation at the edge of the cove.

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Four-Year-Old Juvenile Female Diamondback Terrapin

This posting wouldn’t be complete without a close-up photograph of this beautiful young turtle.

Sampled Terrapins Released Back into Mating Aggregation 

We sampled thirteen turtles from the cove.  Eleven were adults and two were juveniles.  Ten were female and three were male.  Six were recaptures and seven were first-time captures.  All of the females for whom we had nesting records came from the sandy shores of Great Island.