Previous Page Photo-Diary of a Terrapin Researcher  Next Page

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

On Land and Sea — 29 May 2001

While raising the flag this morning under bright sunshine and a snapping southwest breeze, I was visited by Bill Walker, a summer resident on Lieutenant Island and member in good standing of the Paludal Posse.  Last year, he and his wife Florence found a female nesting in their driveway — a good 1/4 mile uphill trek from the nearest marsh.  That protected nest yielded a dozen perfect hatchlings in the fall.

Today Bill had another story to tell.  Just back for the summer, he was cleaning the basement and swept up a “stone” that decided to start moving when it felt the broom.  He picked up a 2.66-centimeter, 5-gram diamondback terrapin.  Examining the walk-in basement from the outside, I found a small space under its wooden doors through which a baby turtle could wander.

This foundling was a long, long way from safety in the marsh.  And thanks to the Walkers, she’ll now have a chance to make it in the wild.  Quite an attractive critter, she had unusually light gray eyes around a dark pupil.

In Blackfish Creek this morning, we found terrible visibility caused by several days of southwest winds and thunderstorms churning up the bottom.  We also found a mature male turtle (#1075) seen for the first time.  He measured a little over 12 centimeters and hit the scales at 282 grams.  Turtle 1075 sported a stylish Poirot-esque mustache, was still heavily caked in mud, showed pocks and minor scarring of his plastron, and a hard sore on the underside of his right rear limb.

The highlight of the day, though, was a chance to indoctrinate some new recruits for the Paludal Posse.  Joe, Kira, and James happened to be visiting the island from the mainland with their parents, saw our research activity, and had the good sense to join in the fun.