Where the Boys Are — Male Diamondback Terrapins

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Handsome Male Diamondback Terrapin 

Turtle Journal returned to a very active mating aggregation in Wellfleet Bay on Outer Cape Cod last Friday.  The objective of our sampling expedition was to examine male diamondback terrapins.  While mature female terrapins will be coming on to shore next month to nest, male terrapins never leave the water.  They’re much more elusive and once dispersed after the spring mating aggregation, they are difficult to track and to capture.  So, this Friday we eschewed large females and focused on the smaller males.

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Typical Male Diamondback Terrapin Tail

Terrapins exhibit sexual dimorphism.  A polysyllabic word that simply means that they differ in size between genders.  In the case of diamondback terrapins, females are twice as long and wide, and four times as massive as males.  The key distinguishing feature between males and females is the tail.  Females have small thin tails and males, as demonstrated by the specimen pictured above, have long thick tails.

Where the Boys Are: Heading Back to Mating Aggregation

Who said that turtles have no personality?  Whoever they may be, it’s clear they haven’t spent much time with diamondbacks.  Here’s a small array of personalities that we found during our brief sampling adventure.

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