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

Things Were Getting Desperate — 17 August 2001

Yep — things were getting desperate in the Land of Ooze.  A long spell of lousy tides, coupled with a heat wave that magically transformed turtles into aquatic hares, converted our terrapin research program into a snipe hunt.  The drought seemed to stretch as long as a Red Sox losing streak.  And desperate times called for desperate measures.  One new recruit into the Paludal Posse began cruising the creeks with her turtle-sniffing dog pacing the bow of her kayak, anything to break the string.


The first good tide in August came in the two darkest hours before this morning's sunrise.  But with another front sweeping across the Northeast and threatening to close out turtling with high winds and thunderstorms, you take advantage of whatever interval the gods allow.  So, 3:30 A.M., just in time to watch the crescent moon rise out of the Atlantic, I launched my kayak into the night.

Figuring darkness was not handicap enough, a wispy fog wafted across the bay on a southerly breeze, obscuring an otherwise exquisite nightscape.  It was only as dawn began to break and the tide reversed that heads could be seen snorkeling along the glassy waves.  Luckily for me, Terrapin 1068 surfaced a few feet from the kayak.  A mature male, he had last been seen on 11 May 2001 (see Luck All Around) as he paddled through the rapids shortly after emerging from brumation.  Back then, #1068 measured 11.9 centimeters and weighed 254 grams.  Since May he hasn't grown a bit, yet he managed to increase his body mass by 20% (50 grams).  Not a bad season at all . . . for turtles, that is.

Released at sunrise, Terrapin 1068 slipped into the creek as yours truly slipped back to Connemara Cottage — both planning a midday nap to make up for our morning adventure.