Archive for July, 2011

Terrapin 9898 Nests on Fifth Avenue

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Terrapin 9898 Completing Nest

Yes, Fifth Avenue.  But no Macy’s, no Saks, no New York, New York.  Instead, beautiful diamondback terrapin #9898  is nesting on the one-lane dirt road Fifth Avenue on Lieutenant Island in South Wellfleet.  This Fifth Avenue is renowned as the epicenter of terrapin nesting in the Northeast, not high scale shopping for which the other Fifth Avenue is noted.

In the midst of a torrential downpour and dramatic thunderstorm, Terrapin 9898 dug her second and final nest of the season in the west tire track of Fifth Avenue.  Turtle Journal came across her as lightning danced in the tree tops overhead and thunder claps shook the island.  We parked the car to block road traffic to protect her vulnerability from disturbance and potential injury.

After she completed the nest, we excavated her eggs and moved them to a safer location on Turtle Point.  Because she had nested in the midst of the storm, her eggs were floating in several inches of water inside the egg chamber.  Terrapin 9898 scrambled down the bank and slipped into the salt marsh.  With her responsibilities to the next generation done for 2011, her key task between now and 1 October is to forage in order to restore the 20% body mass she has invested in her two clutches, so she can survive the cold hard winter ahead.