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


Of Things Big and Small — 12 May 2001

The morning broke warm and bright with a southwest breeze bathing the Cape in our first wave of summer humidity.  In other words, a perfect day to release Hatchling 001, dubbed Ott, who was rescued from the coyote track yesterday.  Overnight she first soaked in fresh water, and then ambled about her terrarium and burrowed into brackish mud.  Within those few hours she had rehydrated and double her weight to over 6 grams.  And she was a lot more alert and active, too.

Released in the wrack at Turtle Point, she crawled over to the cover of a sea lavender and soon disappeared beneath the marsh hay.  Bon chance!

In Blackfish Creek the tides have swung into mid-phase mediocrity — not very good for turtle observations.  But on the off chance, I dragged the dinghy onto the rip and scanned the channel for passing terrapins.  As the tide reached dead low, a mature female appeared in the rapid.

Terrapin 363 been under observation by our researchers since June 1996 when she was first discovered during a nesting run on Lieutenant Island.  Then she measured 17 centimeters long and weighed 920 grams.  Three years later and twice last year, #363 was found nesting on Lieutenant Island.  Today was the first time she had been seen in Blackfish Creek.  She now stretches 17.5 centimeters and hits the scales at 1024 grams — over 200 grams (!!!) larger than her weight on 29 June 2000 just after she had laid 14 viable eggs in a Lieutenant Island driveway.

With Mothers’ Day Weekend in full swing, there were many beachside visitors this morning, all of whom had the opportunity to meet Terrapin 363 and to hear about diamondback terrapins and Wellfleet Bay’s research and conservancy program to protect this threatened species.