First Active Diamondback Terrapin on Outer Cape Cod

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Mature Female #8012 — First Active Terrapin of 2010

Bright sunshine and temperatures approaching 60 degrees prompted a dozen or more diamondback terrapins to mix and mingle in the major mating aggregation of Wellfleet Harbor on Outer Cape Cod today, April 20th.  Sue Wieber Nourse of Turtle Journal netted the first terrapin of the year, a gorgeous mature female, as high tide flooded into the cove.

Terrapin #8012 Rejoins Mating Aggregation in Wellfleet Bay

Sue spotted males following females around the marshy edge of the cove and decided to see if she could actually dip net one as a sample.  Water in the harbor is crystal clear in April before algae blooms spoil the view. 

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Carapace and Plastron of Terrapin #8012

Female Terrapin #8012 is quite a mature female approaching the maximum size for an Outer Cape terrapin at 19.6 centimeters straight-line carapace length.  Despite her age, #8012 was only first captured on 12 July 2009 as she nested in the sandy dunes behind Field Point off Blackfish Creek.  She weighed 1122 grams back then and 1284 grams today after emerging from six months of brumation (winter slumber).

So, in the immortal words of Sherlock Holmes, “The game’s afoot!”

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