New Life Emerges — First Terrapin Hatchling

first hatchling 2010 008 480

First Terrapin Hatchling of 2010

In April we watch diamondback terrapins emerges from seven months of winter slumber.  In May we observe them gather in mating aggregations to start the renewal process.  In June we track female terrapins landward as they bury two nests a year, each separated by 2.5 weeks, in shoreline uplands for summer incubation.  Then we wait, and we wait, and we wait … with all the patience of grandparents pacing outside the labor room.  One month, two months … and finally a baby pips through its eggshell and emerges as the first sign of new life.

first hatchling 2010 001 480

Pipped Hatchling Peers from Its Torn Eggshell

This morning Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse checked sites throughout Lieutenant Island as the first laid nests passed sixty days of incubation.  In Nest 236 on Lieutenant Island’s Turtle Point, Sue discovered the first South Wellfleet hatchling of the year in a nest that had been mostly desiccated by the hot, dry days of June and July.  This baby had incubated in its egg for 61 days.

First Diamondback Terrapin Hatchling of 2010

And what a beauty this one proved to be!  Of course the first is always the most beautiful as it marks the promise of rebirth and renewal for this threatened species.  Still, this little critter, who emerged from a smallish egg that had been moisture starved through the summer, seemed particularly feisty and ready to meet its brave new world.

first hatchling 2010 006 480

Welcome to Outer Cape Cod!

For all terrapin researchers and conservationists in Southeast Massachusetts, the game’s afoot and the fun has begun.  It will be a very busy season as turtle nests will be popping from backyards to bogs to salt marshes to coastal dunes for the next three months.

Comments are closed.