Surprising Terrapin (turtle) News

terrapin (turtle)A riverfront resident called yesterday (June 22, 2019). He had six female terrapins crawling around his yard looking to nest. He grabbed them for us. Melissa and I collected and processed them right away. (George was away for a family hike in New Hampshire this weekend. He’s going to be very jealous when he finds out.) Two were already PIT tagged (i.e., recaptures).

Upon entering their data we found the following;

  1. We now have 73 marked individual terrapins in the Lower Taunton River.
  2. We now have three recaptures. Still a small number, but we tripled our total this weekend – thanks to this resident.
  3. The “first” recaptured animal, 7041, was caught last year in the same yard after she nested on June 19, 2018. Her shell measurements are very similar to last year’s. (Differences are likely due to individual observer differences in reading the calipers – 0.5%-2% differences. Her mass was 13% (200g) greater this year. This is at least partially due to her still being gravid.
  4. The second recapture is 7053. We counted her with eight annuli last year and (thankfully) counted 9 on her yesterday. She processed very similarly to 7041 – shell metrics within 2% and was 9% (100g) heavier this year. HOWEVER, there was something VERY exciting! In 2018 we caught her in a trap in Broad Cove.

We have been wondering about the movements of terrapins between Broad Cove and Assonet Bay turtles and their movements up and down the river. At some point since last year, 7053 moved from Broad Cove to Assonet Bay. When did she get to Assonet Bay? Did she do so just to reach this particular nesting area? If so, why? There is a nice nesting area, use by several terrapin, in Broad Cove? How long will she stay?

All six turtles were released back at the same yard by the end of the day.

If you happen to see any terrapins (turtles) trying to nest in your yard please notify TRWA at or 508-828-1101. We would love to add more to our study. They are endangered and can use a little help with safe nesting areas.

PS: Update – we are now up to 88 marked turtles!

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