NJ Turtles: So Happy Together!
Story by Tom Pagliaroli
In reference to the 1967 #1 pop hit by The Turtles, it’s indeed a happy time when one observes a box turtle in the garden or lawn, or an endangered northern diamondback terrapin making its way across the asphalt, oyster shell or dirt road trying to get to a more hospitable brackish water place.
Indeed, these amphibious travelers represent the arrival of the spring into early summer season (along with the gnats and greenheads), and while it’s cool to see them, remember that it should be a strict hands-off policy.
Ideally, let the shell draggers make their ways to wherever, as Ma Nature intended. However, in certain instances, one must lend a hand to avoid a mish-mash of meat and possible tire-puncturing keratin.
Late afternoon last Sunday, for instance. Along a road bordered both sides by tidal marsh, and being zipped along by those crabbers and boaters leaving the boat ramp for home, sat a shell of what looked to be a terrapin. I pulled over and went to the double yellow line to take a look. Sure ‘nuff, it was a tucked-in terrapin, and with refuge a mere 15 yards away, it was a quick walk to water’s edge. In a couple of minutes, the occupant extended its head, gave a quick recon and scooted into the stained, building high tide waters.
Should it have been run over, mistaken for a wad of seaweed, it meant a dead terrapin and most likely a flat tire before reaching Route 9.
Here’s the dealio: in the case of the prehistoric snapping turtle (one cannot mistake the low riding head/neck/hooked jaws, and armored tail), leave it to its own travel devices unless you are looking for a possible digit(s) removal. For the diamondback and the yellow/black box turtle, if you observe either in a compromising (read: death assured) situation, consider giving a life-saving assist.