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.