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

Fundamental Questions — 25 April 2001

When temperature drops to 45 degrees, winds howl from the north at 20+ knots, wind chills plunge into the mid-20s, and you’re chest deep in frigid bay water wading across Blackfish Creek, you begin to question life’s fundamentals: the importance of research, the value of terrapin conservation, and most urgently, your sanity.  The sky was gray, the water grayer, sandbars gray, and my fingers ashen.

Very little turtle activity in the creek.  The only critters stirring were horseshoe crabs.  Six pairs were mating in the low tide rip along sandbars and a single pair remained locked in warm embrace at the high tide mark on Lieutenant Island north beach ...

. . . following a mating dance of some artistic proportion.

I saw two mature female terrapins snorkeling in the main channel, but visibility proved impossible to locate them underwater.  Near the end of the tide, a lone male paddled by me.

Terrapin 1049 measured 11.7 centimeters carapace length and weighed in at 276 grams.  A passive fellow, he still showed muddy residue on his tail and cowl, indicating a very recent emergence from brumation.