Monday, June 2, 2008

Release the Cooters!

Hey everyone - we just got back from MassWildlife's cooter release in South Middleboro. What a great time! There were several groups of students from colleges and high schools in Worcester, Dorchester and Bourne. Some of them had participated in raising the cooters. One of the students proved adept at catching water snakes while we waited for the cooters to arrive - which my kids thought was pretty amazing. (Okay... I did, too.)

The cooters themselves were adorable, and actually very friendly, though they were much bigger than I'd thought they'd be. I guess I was expecting them to be the size of those little turtles we used to bring home from the pet store a million years ago, but these guys were pretty darn beefy. In fact, it would take a normal red bellied cooter 5 years in the wild to grow to the same size as the ones we released today, which were kept warm and fed extremely well over the winter in captivity.

Update: If you check out the comments on my original cooter blog post, Hope Floats, you'll see that I was trying to explain to someone why I thought that this particular cooter was different and more rare than others. Turns out I was right! Cooters range from New Jersey to the Carolinas, but what we have in our neck of the woods is an isolated disjunct population of the cooter.

And guess what... before we released the little guys, chief Windsong from the Assonet branch of the Wampanoag Tribe said a prayer for them! It was all very cool and I'm so glad we participated.

Toward the end I met up with Christine Walgren from the Boston Globe and I told her how her original story about the Cooters and the proposed casino property had inspired me to learn and blog about them.

The kids found the whole morning very exciting - from being in a new and beautiful place, to meeting college students who study the environment, to touching water snakes, to witnessing a Native American prayer service, to putting the cooters in the water and finally even wading in themselves.

But for me the best part, aside from the smiles on the kid's faces, was looking out over Great Quittacus Pond and seeing about a hundred little cooter heads poking up out of the water as they swam off to their new lives.

We took a zillion photos and got lots of videos - which the kids and I hope to turn into our own video to share with their classmates and of course you, my delightful readers.

Driving home past lakes and meadows and woodlands, unsullied by a soaring glass edifice to greed, we all felt very good about our part of the world - and the little part we'd just played in making it better.


carverchick said...


It sounds like a fabulous way to spend a Monday morning! Thank goodness those cooters have such a wonderful group like MassWildlife to watch over them, and the Assonet Wampanoag Tribal Chief to give them his blessings!

Just this morning my husband and son saved a turtle from being squished on Old Center Street in Caver and yesterday there was a very large turtle trying to cross route 44 in Plympton. By the time we turned around to get back to it, a mother and her two kids had removed him from the road. A close call on two counts! It breaks my heart to see those critters squished on the road, and lifts it so much when I see and read about people who care enough to try and help.

So glad you and your kids had a great time. I can't wait to see the pictures and video!

Anonymous said...

What an inspiration it is to know what efforts people are taking to preserve our environment!


Anonymous said...

I had a turtle greet me in my driveway yesterday morning. I followed it for a while, and it appeared it was going to make it to the river out back.It looked like a large "sun turtle", cooter maybe? It doesn't matter, it was nice to see. I always try to stop and help turtles,frogs and snakes in the road. Sometimes I get honked at, other times I get a "Your so sweet".
P.S.- Enterprise article,spotlight on Mary Tufts!

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

Not to be a downer, but careful with your kids when helping a turtle or other animal on the side of the road.

Shortly after vacationing in Ft. Meyers in 2005, a 6 year old was killed there. Her mother had pulled over to help a turtle crossing the road and the little girl ran out into the road.

The story resonated with me because we had just been there with my 6 year old.

carverchick said...

Very good point Bumpkin! It is wonderful to help, but safety first, always!

fiferstone said...

Hi Gladys:

Just saw the article on the release, well done all! We once had a fairly good-sized snapper cross route 105 near our driveway (heading to the swamp, I think). My husband and I acted as turtle crossing guards while the turtle made his deliberate way across the road, hissing warnings at us periodically all the while.

Anonymous said...

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Brush after meals. Strive to post regularly.

Dear Gladys, BEFORE I read your blogs this is what I mentally get ready for: STAND BY FOR SOME HARD TRUTHS!! FOR OUR SAKE KEEP GOING!!!

Gladys Kravitz said...

Thank you so much!

Gladys Kravitz said...

It turns out the above "Desiderata for Bloggers" originated at this lovely blog...