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

Invasion of Turtle Point — 10 March 2001

Well, it used to be called Turtle Point: the south hill of Lieutenant Island, which nesting diamondback terrapins scale in waves during June and July, and from which hundreds of tiny hatchlings scramble each fall through a phalanx of predators to reach safety in the surrounding nursery marsh.  But this year has witnessed a Canadian invasion of terrapin territory.  An army of juvenile harp seals has swarmed Wellfleet Harbor and today took possession of Turtle Point itself.

An active, aggressive harp seal surprised my daily marsh patrol when he barked me away from Turtle Point in his best King of the Hill imitation.  This beautiful pup had begun munching bearberry and showed the healed scar of an earlier unfortunate encounter across his forehead.

Along the adjoining Marsh Road, another harp seal had floated in with the midday flood tide.  The fattest seal I have seen this winter, or perhaps ever, this one looked as though its too small flippers would never be adequate to power such a well-endowed, roly-poly body.

The good news for dear Rags and his beloved terrapins, too, is that spring arrives in two weeks and soon the weather will force these blubbery invaders back once more into the Great White North.