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

Dogged Determination — 16 June 2001

They came ashore from sunrise to sunset, surfing the dawn high at one end, the dusk high at the other, and wading the tidal flats in between.

Old friends and new acquaintances, they all came ashore and found their spots to nest.  Hill side, wrack line, barrier beach, sandy dune — every upland site abutting Wellfleet’s marshes was awash in diamonds.

Contrasting two ends of the nesting spectrum, in the photo below we have Terrapin 147 on the left and Turtle 699 on the right.  Number 147 was first observed in 1989 when she was already so large and ancient that she was chosen for the Sanctuary’s first radio tagging experiment with terrapins.  Not a rip-roaring success, she disappeared rather quickly into our pristine, serpentine marsh system and things got real quiet, real fast.  For the last 12 years, she has hovered around the south side of Lieutenant Island, observed periodically when she comes ashore for nesting, like today.  Now she measures nearly 20 centimeters and hits the scales at around 1500 grams.  Number 699, on the other hand, is about 11 years old.  She was first observed two years ago on one of her first nesting runs.  Today she measures 16.6 centimeters and weight about 850 grams.

And just because it’s his 15th birthday, I wanted to get my faithful companion Rags into the act.  He accompanied me this morning to process the first wave of nesters on Indian Neck and could be heard faintly panting, “Me and my shadow . . . ,” as he provided welcomed shade on a hazy, hot and humid morning.