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

New Friends — 28 July 2001

A Cape Cod perfect day in all respects: 65 to 70 degrees, northwest breeze sweeping the air clean of humidity, bright sunshine under royal skies laced with milky cirrus.  Even the disadvantage of mediocre tides couldn’t dissuade me from launching my kayak into Blackfish Creek for an afternoon reptilian communion.

Few turtles washed through the rip with weak mid-phase currents, and those that did make the journey hunkered close to the warm, murky bottom.  Several days of rainy cloud cover left surface water temperatures a bit on the chilly side for my cold-blooded friends, and stirred a silty ooze throughout the channel.  Despite the odds, one pre-adult female decided to swim over and make my acquaintance.

Terrapin #1175 is a beautiful pre-adult female about 7 years old.  At 12.85 centimeters carapace length and 407 grams, she’s probably two to three seasons shy of nesting maturity.  Number1175 was adorned with light green algae sprinkled along her marginal scutes and dabs of mud in her front and rear cavities, as though she’s been hunkered down and under during the last few cool stormy days.

She had the opportunity to meet and educate young Theodore who’s visiting Lieutenant Island with his parents and happened by just in time to help with the processing . . .

. . . and to release her back into Blackfish Creek.  Before departing for parts wet and deep, though, Terrapin #1175 stopped to give her new friends one long, final turtle good-bye.  Bon chance, mon cher amie.