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HOLGATE IS CRAWLING WITH TERRAPIN:  The Holgate end of LBI would seem a nesting terrapin’s dream digs, especially when factoring in the recent erosion -- offering acres upon acres of seemingly ideal…

HOLGATE IS CRAWLING WITH TERRAPIN: 

The Holgate end of LBI would seem a nesting terrapin’s dream digs, especially when factoring in the recent erosion -- offering acres upon acres of seemingly ideal egg-laying terrain. What’s more, the Refuge’s efforts to control certain predators – mainly foxes and cats – makes nesting success a lot less iffy.  

However, you sure don’t want to put too many terrapin eggs in one Holgate basket – where instantaneous and irreversible failure is only an overwash away. The ecological destruction caused by major storms is often under reported. From piping plover to oystercatchers to terns to terrapins, one bad blow is all she wrote for dozens even hundreds of nests. There seems a lot to be said for nesting, hatching and getting the hell out, post haste. And many a terrapin works this speedy schedule, with what seems to be a growing success.

Then there’s the other side of the nesting terrapin coin, namely hatchlings that actually lollygag – with their own damn decent success.

This past spring saw what seemed to be a highly impressive showing of overwintering hatchlings moving on out. These are baby terrapins that hatched in fall, then, via whatever strange instincts speak to them, deliberately stayed in-nest for the entire winter.

Survival-wise, such a non-move notion might seem highly suspect, winter being a less than friendly time hanging around in the ground.  But, nature knows best. Even in the wake of one of the nastiest, coldest, deep-freeze winters imaginable, out poured a very vivacious 2013 year-class of terrapins, seemingly no worse for winter wear.  

Yes, one would have to actually ferret out nests to tabulate the survival rate/ratio but in the big survival picture, it’s how many young’uns make it out  – and that number sure seemed  impressive.  

What’s more, I’ve always thought a terrapin hatchling stands a way better chance of surviving predation in springtime. Launching into life in summer or fall –which is still the prime hatching seasons – any and all small creatures are toying with the jaws of huge, eat-anything bluefish and bass. Even fluke won’t hesitate to down a tasty terrapin. I once saw a blue crab swim up and crab at a tiny, poorly swimming terrapin I had rescued from a volleyball court nest. Yes, I saved it – and gave the crab a good talkin’ to. “Bad, crab! Very, very bad crab!”  

But I just observationally toy with terrapins, while also trying to save them from the terrible tire predation they suffer. I gain far more technical insights via ongoing studies and observations being done by a huge academic work force that live and breathe these brackish-water creatures. Check it out on Google.

I see the current terrapin-saving efforts as possibly the topmost bayside conservation effort on the entire eastern seaboard.  The hands-on aspect of helping a specific species might offer a template for helping along other sufferin’ species. 

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I got a slew of emails about the suspected dangers of sharks in the surf. Well, as you head into the ocean, remember there’s a one thousand times greater chance of getting bitten by a Uruguayan soccer player than a great white shark. Just sayin’. 

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Wompwommmp! Holgate Failboat 2014

Wompwommmp! Holgate Failboat 2014

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