Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snapping turtles of Long Island


Mona Albano said...

That's a big turtle! I really like their 'prehistoric' look.

Lars said...

Could you tell us a bit more about what's going on here? Looks like a mark-recapture study.

Matt said...

Hi, I would also like to know more about this study. I work on a long term mark-recapture project with Snapping Turtles in Ontario and I'm interested in the tags specifically but also knowing more about what other researchers are doing in general. Feel free to email me with details or contact info (keevilm at symbol gmail dot com). Thanks. Matt Keevil

Chas Peterson said...

Thanks for commenting!
Yeah, snapping turtles are very cool and very primitive in appearance. In many areas of North America, they're the biggest meanest predators left and yet nobody knows they're there.

These turtles were trapped, measured, (re)marked, and released in a pond within the Gateway National Recreation Area. It's a very popular hiking and birding spot within sight of JFK airport and Manhattan. These snapping turtles were apparently released--as adults--into the pond back in the 1970s but records are sketchy. Every Spring visitors and volunteers* report seeing snapping turtles nesting, but nobody knew how many there were or whether they were reproducing successfully (raccoons find most or all of the nests).
So we're marking them with big, easily visible cattle ear tags to start keeping track. This does involve drilling through the marginal scutes.

*most of our research is on the diamondback terrapins that nest on the beaches; there are volunteers and students out there all the time.

Lars said...

Thanks for the detail, Chas. I hope that you get some reliable data.

There are diamondbacks as far north as the Hudson Estuary? Didn't realize that.