First Spotted Turtle of 2011 Field Season

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Sue Wieber Nourse Examines Male Spotted Turtle

As sure as Saint Patrick drove snakes from the Emerald Isle, as sure as spring equinox arrives each year once rivers of green beer runs dry, a few days of sunshine and 50-degree weather will produce the first basking spotted turtle at Brainard’s Marsh on the South Coast of Massachusetts.  (See Spotted Turtle and Wood Frog Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, March 18, 2011)

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Large Female Painted Turtles Basking at Local Bog

During the last week we’ve seen painted turtles decorating rocks at our local bogs and on the floating platform at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.  Yesterday, Sue spied two small juvenile spotted turtles sunning on the far, unapproachable banks of the pond at Brainard’s Marsh.

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Spotted Turtle (Clemmys Guttata) 

So, this morning Sue came to Brainard’s Marsh ready for action with a long handled (10 foot) net to snag this handsome dude basking on the bank and to kick off the Turtle Journal’s local research season.  Spotteds are an extremely elusive small fresh water turtle.  For sizing, note the oak leaf in the photograph above with the mature male spotted turtle.

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Carapace of Male Spotted Turtle

This 12-year-old male measured 11.6 centimeters (~ 4.5 inches) straight-line carapace length and 8.7 centimeters (3.4 inches) maximum straight-line width.

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Plastron of Male Spotted Turtles

His plastron measured 9.7 centimeters (3.8 inches) long with a nice male concavity and thick tail.

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Male Spotted Turtle at Brainard’s Marsh

Our lad hit the scales at 211 grams (7.4 ounces) and didn’t need to be marked because he had natural nicks at the 2000 suture and in the 3 marginal.  Some future St. Patrick’s Day researcher may be flummoxed by finding a turtle marked as #2003 in a tiny fresh water pond.  Perhaps, that future researcher will be clever or lucky enough to attritube those marks to a pint (or two) of green beer.

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