Diamondbacks of New England

By Tom Richardson, New England Boating

Female Diamondback Terrapin #815 in Blackfish Creek

(Click here for full article by Tom Richardson in New England Boating)

In the fall of 1998, Sue Wieber Nourse was lecturing in her marine science lab at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, when a small, olive turtle scrambled across the threshold of the open door and into the room. Unsure of what species it was, she checked it against her reference sources and identified it as a juvenile diamondback terrapin, the only estuarine turtle in North America. What made the discovery especially intriguing was that diamondback terrapins were thought to be extinct in the Marion area, where shoreline development has eliminated much of their habitat.

Sue Wieber Nourse Examines Diamondback Terrapin in Sippican Harbor

It wasn’t until a few years later that Wieber Nourse attended a talk given by turtle researcher Don Lewis. When she told Lewis of her discovery, he immediately volunteered to scout the Marion waterfront for likely diamondback habitat. By the time their investigations were over, Wieber Nourse and Lewis had found several spots where the turtles might still be able to live, breed and nest. And 2 years later they were married, brought together by a most unlikely matchmaker.

Don Lewis Eye-to-Eye with Newborn Terrapin Hatchling

Don Lewis meets a lot of people through turtles, including this writer, who read about the Marion discovery in a local newspaper. While that alone was enough to pique my interest, the same article also mentioned that nesting diamondbacks had been found in Aucoot Cove, where I happen to live.

Diamondback Terrapin Nesting on Aucoot Cove Beach off Buzzards Bay

Terrapins among us? This was news indeed!

Diamondback Terrapin Hatchlings from Aucoot Cove off Buzzards Bay

Hunting for Terrapins

(Read full New England Boating article on line by clicking here.)

Female Diamondback Terrapin #829

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