Going Turtling! : Week 2, Lots and Lots of Turtles

Week 2 had beautiful weather, and even more beautiful turtles!! I hope I’n not being dramatic by saying that week 2 hit us like a truck. Week 2 was full of laughter, tears, and records for the project!

We caught 16 turtles in total this week, and 11 of those we caught in one day! Out of the 16, 8 were females and 8 were males. The carapace length  of turtles ranged from a 9.3 cm Male to a 20.6 cm Female! This is the largest range we saw throughout the project, and that female, Terp # 15, affectionately dubbed “Big Bertha” by my partner, was the largest turtle we caught throughout the whole project as well.

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Don’t be fooled my Justin’s monster hands, this turtle was huge (for a terrapin). Keep in mind that terrapins are much smaller on average than snapping turtles or even some sliders. With that said lets addd a fun fact for our awesome catch this week:

When determining the age of terrapins, you count the number of rings on one of the panels on their shells, it’s kind of like counting tree rings.  However, once these turtles get to a certain age, the ridges wear down and become less defined. In this picture you can see the black bands on each panel of her shell, but the panels are flat. In younger turtles there are raised ridges on the rings. This wearing down usually happens later in life, in females that would be around 8-10 years of age. So while we can estimate the age of a turtle of this size, we have no true way of determining how old she is for sure.

Anyhow, for by-catch that week we caught several crabs and 1 croaker, nothing too exciting. We also caught one turtle missing its front left foot, an injury that we would see a relatively high prevalence of in the coming weeks. We still aren’t sure what causes the injuries, it could be pot related, or possible crab related, and occurs early in life. Either way, week 2 was a huge success!

Total Turtle Count as of Week 2: 20

Here’s another link to some Terrapin Info if you are interested! :

https://aqua.org/Experience/Animal-Index/diamondback-terrapin

 

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