Terrapin Nesting Wave Hits Barrier Beach

Terrapin #303 Nesting on Barrier Beach

Bright sunshine, a line of threatening thunderstorms and this morning’s high tide in Buzzards Bay prompted female terrapins to crawl onto the barrier beach of Aucoot Cove to nest.  The Turtle Journal team reached the shore thirty minutes before high tide to discover turtles, turtles everywhere; all of whom proved to be old friends whom we have been following for some time.

Female Diamondback Terrapin #303

We first saw Terrapin #303 on July 9th, 2006 when she came ashore at Aucoot Cove for her second nest of the season.  We observed her the following year, on June 30th, when she again came ashore to nest.  Back then she weighed only 890 grams.  Today, she hit the scales at 1167 grams and has grown more than a centimeter in linear length.

Female Diamondback Terrapin #273

Terrapin #273 has been under observation since 22 June 2005, when she was nesting on the barrier beach at Aucoot Cove.  This morning we spotted her hiding in the shade of a kayak after wandering around and digging a series of false nests.  She, too, has grown more than a centimeter and has increased her mass from 1003 grams to 1143 grams in the intervening seven years.

Female Diamondback Terrapin #910

Terrapin #910 is a more recent turtle.  We first saw this female on 21 June 2011 when she came ashore to deposit her first nest of the season.  She measured 18.7 centimeters long and weighed 1073 grams.  Almost a year later, Terrapin #910 is the same length, but has gained 32 grams.

Female Diamondback Terrapin #299

We have a special love for Terrapin #299.  Turtle Journal saw her first on 20 July 2005 when she crawled onto the barrier beach at Aucoot Cove to deposit her second clutch of the year.  She was already a huge turtle at 20.4 centimeters length and 1134 grams, despite the injury she had suffered to both front limbs.  We observed her again on 5 July 2006, 28 June 2007, and 20 June 2009.  And we saw her again this year on May 31st when she tipped the scales at 1410 grams while only increasing her length by a mere .1 centimeter.  With her handicapped limbs, it takes Terrapin #299 considerable time to nest, and usually many runs before she is successful.  Today, she still held the same eggs as eight days ago, but they had dropped a lot further down in the oviducts.  She is now what we turtlers describe as “VERY gravid.”

Don Lewis Measures Diamondback Terrapin #273

We examined, measured and weighed each of these terrapin ladies on site and immediately released them back where they were found.

Terrapin Released in Buzzards Bay (in Turtle Time)

As Sue Wieber Nourse brought each terrapin back after processing, she watched them return to their estuarine habitat … in good ole turtle time; that is, in motion which can best be captured in time lapse photography.  Still, Sue decided to film the event for your enjoyment as she released Terrapin #273 into the salt marsh channel behind the Aucoot Cove barrier beach.  Watch … with infinite patience.  They are, after all, turtles.

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