Hatchling Rescue on Marion Barrier Beach

Rescued Premature Hatchling from Marion Barrier Beach

Life is not fair, especially for vulnerable diamondback terrapin hatchlings like the little baby pictured above.  Once eggs have incubated long en0ugh, two to three months depending on temperature, hatchlings begin to “pip,” break the eggshell with their egg tooth.  Even though the egg has been pierced, babies stay inside until they have absorbed enough of their huge yolk sacs for them to be able to crawl freely.  Those babies furthest along in development emerge first, leaving less mature hatchlings to fend for themselves.  Unfortunately, once the first hatchling tunnels to the surface, it leaves an emergence hole from which the tempting odor of organic material rings through the beach like a dinner bell for predators.

Hatchling Tracks on Marion Barrier Beach

On Wednesday morning, Sue Wieber Nourse and Rufus the Turtle Dog found hatchling tracks on a Marion barrier beach.  Sue analyzed the tracks and found the emergence hole.  Six hatchlings had tunneled to safety, leaving behind three “pipped” and helpless babies with huge yolk sacs that thwarted emergence.  They would have been consumed by predators as soon as darkness fell.  Sue also found three eggs, two viable and one questionable.

Sue Wieber Nourse with Rescued Hatchling

Sue harvested the eggs and the premature babies.  They were brought to Turtle Journal’s rescue nursery where the eggs will continue to incubate and the babies will mature in safety.  With a little luck and a lot of TLC, all will be returned to the wild in a few weeks to boost the threatened population of diamondback terrapins in Buzzards Bay.

Being Born:  Not All It’s “Cracked” Up to Be

So, yes; being born is not all it’s cracked up to be.  For a baby turtle, challenges to survival are legion.  Luckily for these babies, Sue Wieber Nourse, Rufus the Turtle Dog and the whole Turtle Journal team of researchers and rescuers are on watch to give them that little extra TLC that will make the difference between survival and extirpation for diamondback terrapins in Buzzards Bay.

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