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

The Marsh Surrenders Its Secrets —19 March 2001

In the Land of Ooze, nothing happens fast.  Fall lingers into November, winter tarries into March, and spring never comes on time.  But as water temperatures inch upward at turtle speeds and the mud flats begin to thaw, the marsh reluctantly surrenders its secrets, held buried since last October.  Remains of two terrapins were uncovered in the Fox Island Wildlife Management Area this morning.

The first turtle was a mature male, 6 or 7 years old.  He had not been previously observed by our research team, so there’s no history on this fellow.  His sported flared rear marginals and had an unusual slant cut across the front of his carapace which had shaved most of his right front marginal clean off.

The second terrapin was a 2-year-old juvenile, completely desiccated but limbs mostly intact.  The shell had become bloated and separated along the seams, making accurate measurements impossible.

Today’s water temperature readings in the marsh creeks, where our brumating terrapins are fast asleep, tickled the high forties, inching ever so slowly toward the magic 55ºF wake-up call.  And so we wait our here at the end of the universe. impatiently, for either Godot or the first terrapin of spring . . . whichever comes first.