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

Day of Discovery — 8 May 2002

Students from the Putney School in Vermont visited the Land of Ooze today.  They began with a morning of eastern box turtle tracking led by Bob Prescott, the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary director.  Three turtles were discovered and a new data sheet was added to each one’s historical record.  The long-standing and ongoing drought in the Northeast seems to have taken a toll on these turtles as their weights show a significant downward trend over the last couple of years.

The afternoon was dedicated to terrapins and the tidal flats, much more to the latter than the former given today’s conditions. 
We started by releasing Terrapin #71, a 25-year-old female captured last evening in Loagy Bay.  We slogged out through the marsh grass and muck to return her to the same spot she was found by Bill Walton yesterday.

Afterwards we fanned out to cover the myriad marsh creeks south of Lieutenant Island in search of basking terrapins.  No luck.  Blustery conditions discouraged turtles, only recently emerged from brumation, from exposing themselves to a heat-robbing breeze off the bay.

Still, the tidal flats offer lots of interesting critters to explore.  A moonsnail slithering across the bar, a green crab adorned with eggs, mating horseshoe crabs burrowed into the soft bottom, and even a spider crab or two — they all delighted students, teachers, and guide alike.