First Diamondback Terrapin Pair of 2010 — The Adorable Couple

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 The Adorable Terrapin Couple (Male Left, Female Right)

Temperatures were cool on Saturday, April 24th, hovering in the mid-50s with a sharp breeze blowing off the Atlantic Ocean.  Still, the sun was shining and with a nothing-ventured, nothing-gained attitude, Turtle Journal waded into Fresh Brook Run south of Lieutenant Island in South Wellfleet in search of emerging terrapins.  We arrived 90 minutes before low tide and zigzaged through the submerged tidal flats before we spotted our first turtle head snorkeling for air.  Don netted a mature male terrapin snoozing on the bottom and camouflaged in a mound of seaweed.  Sue chased down a mature female about a 100 feet away as she swam for safety into deeper, more turbid water.  Together, they make an adorable couple that perfectly illustrates the gender dimorphism of the species with females twice the linear size of males and nearly four times the mass.

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12-Year-Old Female Diamondback Terrapin #9055

This gorgeous 12-year-old female, smiling for the camera, had never been captured before.  She received the new identification number 9055, so that Turtle Journal can follow her exploits through the years.  She measured 18.05 centimeters straight-line carapace length and 16.4 cm plastron length with a mass of 1087 grams.  She had mating scars on her 5th (rear) vertebral and also sported a split nuchal scute.

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8-Year-Old Male Diamondback Terrapin #9056

The handsome 8-year-old male had also never been seen before.  He received the number 9056.  He measured 11.4 centimeters straight-line carapace length and 9.6 cm plastron length with a mass of 245 grams.  This fellow had raised rear marginal and sported a broad, striped tail.

Release of the Adorable Couple into Wellfleet Bay

In the afternoon chill, neither turtle moved too swiftly on release.  Eventually, after more than five minutes, the female began to trudge into the surf toward Wellfleet Bay.  The male, who Don had found snoozing on the bottom, refused to budge and waited for the tide to come to him!

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