Friday, June 26, 2009

Plundered turtle nest

I was just reading that 90% of turtle nests are sacked by predators. At Jamaica Bay yesterday, we saw half a dozen massacre scenes like this one. The white plastic-y looking things are turtle eggs. Something – raccoon, skunk, rat? – went to town here. I’m struck how clean the plunder hole looks, and how otherwise hidden the nest was. How do the hunters know where the eggs are buried? Must be smell; the female turtle sometimes spends hours preparing the nest and then laying the eggs, and that probably scents the spot.

The Terrapin Trail off the West Pond route is closed for two months this time of year, so the plundered nests we saw were on the regular trail. Terrapins and some other turtles like bare sandy ground to nest in, so paths, construction sites, unpaved driveways, etc., are often chosen. Not a great idea anymore, but then, they’ve been doing this for 200 million years, long before we showed up to run them over. Of course, they’ve always had other predators, though 90% sounds like really shitty odds to me. Especially since terrapins have never really recovered from our wholesale eating of them, usually in soup.

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