A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Tiny Turtles

Scientists are trying to increase the numbers of Northern red-bellied cooters in Massachusetts. The Aquarium is helping.

Behind the scenes of the Northern Waters Gallery, a medium-sized freshwater tank is teeming with tiny turtles. They are part of a head start program designed to increase the number of red-bellied turtles in Massachusetts. In the wild, many turtle eggs are eaten by animals such as raccoons and skunks. To prevent this, scientists began putting wire cages over red-bellied turtle nests so the eggs would not be eaten. When the baby turtles hatch in the fall, some of them are taken to institutions such as the New England Aquarium, and they are raised over the winter.

These little turtles arrived in October and they’ve been getting bigger all the time. Bigger, bigger, bigger!

Northern red bellied cooter
October
Northern red bellied cooter
November
Northern red bellied cooter
December

Video from November

On the Blog

Last year, we wrote about these Northern red-bellied cooters, which are a species of freshwater turtle that lives in the Eastern United States—including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Interestingly, there is also a population of this species that lives in Plymouth County, MA, several hundred miles away from any other known populations. Scientists started a project called a “head start” program to try to increase their numbers in Massachusetts.

Find out how.

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