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

Terrapin Chic — 24 June 2001

Our morning expedition to Blackfish Creek became an exercise in fashion and endurance.  Overnight a storm settled on the Cape, dumping torrents of rain between interludes of sticky fog and drizzle.  Borne on a southwest wind, the front churned visibility to opaque.  But such minor challenges can’t hold back dedicated turtle researchers.  Despite the inability to see an inch into the broiling ooze, we still managed to net two turtles — admittedly not the brightest critters in the population since one bounced off my toe and the other swam blindly into a nonchalantly positioned net.  But we shouldn’t be too hard on the turtles; after all, visibility was no better for them than it was for us.  And they showed the good sense to stay underwater and out of the rain, while we, on the other hand . . .

Nevertheless, the weather did present an unparalleled opportunity to dig deep into the closet and to make a terrapin chic fashion statement.  Although I must question Deb’s choice of 18-inches boots while wading in 3-foot deep water.


The afternoon brought a surprise.  A couple walking Goose Pond Trail at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary spotted a tiny turtle hunkering in a puddle.  Clearly out of place and vulnerable, the animal was carried back to the Nature Center where it was identified as an over-wintered diamondback terrapin hatchling.  What a jewel!  Lucky Hatchling 013-01 is the second-smallest hatchling in our records.  It measured a mere 2.13 centimeters plastron length and barely moved the scale at 2.5 grams.  It’s in a heated tank for the night, getting rehydrated before it is released into the south Wellfleet marsh.