NATURE STORIES OF INTEREST
as told by
One of Groton pond's summer residents has been having a rather interesting experience. Jim Soutar and his wife Marcia have had a reptilian visitor return twice in a six year period ( or every three years) to their beach front property to lay eggs in the sand. The creature, evolving from the prehistoric era chose this section of the east shore possibly due to sun exposure
Jim first observed this activity in early June of 2007. A female snapping turtle had come to dig in the warm sand and lay her eggs. It's just a bit off the Soutars beaten path to their boat dock. Jim observed the turtle digging very slowly in turtle fashion, scraping the sand with a hind clawed foot, take a break and rest, then once again continuing on. He estimates she stays about 24 to 36 hours, lays about 20 or 30 eggs, then leaves. The turtle chose to lay her eggs above a cement barrier which is high and dry protected from high water and boat wakes.
Beings this was the Soutar's first experience with this sort of thing, they though the turtle eggs would hatch in a short period of time, like maybe 30 days. But this did not happen. The eggs did not hatch till about mid September. Research and experience tells us that the heat from the sun determines how long the incubation period last and the gender of the young is also determined by the temperature during incubation. Jim said the incubation period lasted 15 weeks This seemed a bit odd that the turtle eggs would hatch out just before cool weather starts settng in. But that is exactly how it happened.
In 2010 once again about the same time in June, a turtle shows up almost exactly in the same spot, digs her nest, lays her eggs and leaves. ( He thinks its the same turtle). He was able to document much of the event with his camera. At one point in June he found several eggs laying in the water and broken, possibly due to predation as racoons, birds and snakes are a primary predator of the newly hatched turtles. Mature snapping turtles have vertually no preditor threats except man.
The nest full of eggs is buried in the sand about 6inches deep. It had a hole in it that looked very much like a snake hole. He covered up the open hole and raked over it. Then in September a goodly number of live baby turtles were seen struggling to dig their way out the vertical hole. They also had to manuver up and over the cement barrier to get to the water, which was proving to be very difficult for them. Jim constructied a mini bridge which aided in their journey to the water's edge. The tiny turtles finally made it. A wonderful learning experience for the Soutar's, their neighbors and a special thank you for sharing the story and photo's with all of us at groton pond.
( a photo of the newly hatched turtles was featured on the LGA website in September)
Go to page titled
It Happened Again
for a follow up on this story....don't miss this continuing saga of the Groton Pond snapping turtle......
little upside down painted turtle hatchling was rescued from constant
bashing against a rock by big waves created by boat traffic. The
little turltle was put upright back into calmer water and released to live
another day. Photo and story Dylan Smith.
Painted Turtle rescue
see bottom of page