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Don Lewis, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
Fox Island Wildlife Management Area

January Thaw — 17 January 2001

A balmy 40+ degrees and a gentle breeze transformed the ice encrusted Fox Island marsh into a salty hayfield.  Exposed by the thaw, yet nearly invisible beneath thick, matted marsh grass, was the remains of an adult male terrapin.

Plastron and carapace smooth by age, this mature male measured 12.1 centimeters straight-line carapace length and 10.5 centimeters plastron length.  The shell itself was water-logged from long exposure.  It exhibited no scratches nor predation marks.  Since 3 November, the Fox Island Wildlife Management Area has revealed a total of 25 diamondback terrapin remains: 12 identified as male, 11 as female.  They ranged in age from several three-year-old juveniles to many smooth shelled elders.  Five had previously been observed and marked, including one male which was seen active and healthy as late as 30 September of this year.

Last year this same area yielded nearly a hundred dead turtles.