Jamaica Pond: Baby Snapping Turtle

We walked around Jamaica Pond on Christmas Eve. Our unseasonably warm December weather continued. Boston hit a high of 69° F (about 21° C). Many plants in the area have been behaving as if it were spring. A cherry tree in Jamaica Plain was in full bloom. And a few plants near the boathouse were unfurling new leaves.

Plant bursting bud in December
Plant unfurling its leaves in winter.

The Pond’s water level was low, leaving a stretch of mud near the boathouse. A young woman was closely watching something moving along the mud. We joined her in finding a baby snapping turtle slowly making its way upland.

Baby snapping turtle next to Jamaica Pond
Baby snapping turtle next to Jamaica Pond

When not moving, the turtle (Chelydra serpentina) disappeared, looking like just another rock on the beach. The light was also fading, as we were only a half hour from sunset.
Snapping turtle

The turtle’s shell was approximately 3 cm in length. It must have hatched earlier this year.

Close-up of baby snapping turtle

Isabel Costa was one of the onlookers. On June 9, she saw a snapping turtle lay its eggs on a slope just on the other side of the path from where we were standing. She showed us a photo on her phone.

Snapping turtle laying eggs
Photo by Isabel Costa of an egg-laying snapping turtle.

As of yesterday, winter has returned. Hopefully, this turtle is biding its time deep in the waters of Jamaica Pond.

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