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

Pregnant Pause — 8 June 2001

Mid-Atlantic colleagues reported terrapins nesting as early as the third week of May.  Our neighbors in Rhode Island began welcoming nesters this last weekend.  So, we have balloons ready and champagne chilled — waiting for Wellfleet turtles to scramble upland and plant the first eggs of the season.  This morning marked an important milestone on the road to nesting.  Two mature females, which were captured flowing through the rip in Blackfish Creek, were clearly gravid with eggs palpable.

Terrapin 1044 (20.5 centimeters and 1400 grams) and Turtle 1048 (18 centimeters and 1115 grams) both tested positive.  The other mature female seen this morning, #1099 (17.7 centimeters and 975 grams) showed no obvious sign of gravidity.  The rest of today’s captures included two pre-pubescent females and two mature males.  Of these seven turtles, three were recaptures and four were first timers.

Helping to spread the word across the Land of Ooze about our threatened diamondback terrapins and to increase awareness as nesting season approaches, the Cape Codder newspaper published an excellent article on how Lieutenant Islanders and all Wellfleetians make sacrifices to ensure the survival of terrapins on the Outer Cape.  Ms. Doreen Leggett, who staffs the environment beat, wrote a compelling two page story that even included a comprehensive fact sheet on terrapins out here at the northern edge of their universe.  Hats off to Doreen and the Cape Codder.