Second Chance at Life — Last 2011 Hatchling

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Last 2011 Terrapin Hatchling

November 14th saw the release of the last diamondback terrapin hatchling of 2011.  What is a hatchling doing in the Great White North in mid November?  Good question!  As nests hatch out during the season, Turtle Journal often finds a few seemingly non-viable eggs lying at the bottom of the nest, looking in pretty sad condition.  They’re often sunken in and darkly discolored.  For all intents and purposes, they’re goners.  But we decided a decade ago to give these sorry-looking eggs a second chance; a last chance, really, to survive.  We place them in clean, moist sand and keep them in a warm environment.  Miraculously, we find a couple of hatchlings each year that earn that second chance at life, usually surfacing at the top of their bucket around Veterans Day or Thanksgiving or even Christmas.  Once such survivor emerged over the weekend.

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Rufus Whispers “Bon Chance” to Last Hatchling

On Monday, the 14th, Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse and Rufus brought the lucky survivor back to her natal site at Turtle Point on South Wellfleet’s Lieutenant Island.  The weather was gorgeous with sunshine and nearly 70 degree temperature.  Rufus, who celebrated her first birthday this weekend, couldn’t allow the baby turtle to escape into vegetative camouflage without whispering a few woofs of advice and giving her a gentle doggie kiss for good luck. 

Last 2011 Hatchling Scrambles to Freedom

A little hesitant at first to trade the safe, warm conditions of Turtle Journal refuge for the unpredictable wilds of freedom on Outer Cape Cod, the hatchling slowly acclimated to her new surroundings.  Within a few minutes she decided on her course of action and headed slightly upland to the bear berry (hog cranberry) vegetation of the embankment at the edge of Turtle Point.  She will burrow into the soft sand and spend her first winter in the deep slumber of brumation, waiting for the warm sunny days of May.

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Second Chance at Life for Lucky Hatchling

For now this sweetheart has the title of the last diamondback terrapin hatchling of 2011.  Of course, with any luck, we hope to see that record broken by another sorry-looking egg and second chancer that will emerge while the Turtle Journal family is gathered for Thanksgiving or perhaps even Christmas dinner.

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