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

Serendipity — 1 June 2001

If anyone asks whether you’d prefer to be good or lucky, pick lucky.  Good only describes process, while luck produces results.  Today proved another case in point.

Midway through a lunar cycle means tides are not workable for locating and netting turtles in Blackfish Creek.  We pulled up stakes for a few days until things improve as the full moon approaches.  A wayward jet stream has blown constant winds and white caps across the bay reducing water visibility to zero.  So, I took the day off from research to introduce a house guest to the joys of kayaking.

As luck would have it, we arrived at the shore a couple of hours before low tide.  I outfitted my companions with life vests, shoehorned them into kayaks, handed them paddles, and shoved them off into Wellfleet Bay — leaving me to my own devices with nothing productive to do.

As luck would have it, I had advertently (!) brought along a net — just in case.  I kayaked across to the flooded rip, jumped out, and waded hip deep in water with the boat lashed to my life vest.  For just a few moments, the wind dropped to near calm and the murk parted enough to see shadows as the tide ebbed.

And, as luck would have it, two turtles tried to swim the rapids just in front of me.

Terrapin 785 is a beautiful pre-pubescent female about 8 years old.  I first saw her on 29 July 1999 when she was only 13.3 centimeters long and 408 grams in weight.  Since then she has grown nearly 1.5 centimeters and 150 grams as she nudges the puberty threshold. I suspect next year (2002) will mark her first nesting season.  The second turtle was marked 1081.  He is a 7-year-old, mature male at nearly 11.9 centimeters length and 283 grams.  He showed muddy residue in his frontal cavity and along the rear, while #785 was clean of all vestiges of brumation.  She did, however, have a ring of light green seaweed clinging to her rear marginals.

One interesting observation:  In July 1999, I had noted a pimple-like growth in Terrapin 785’s mouth.  Today it was clear — as luck would have it.