Saturday January 21, 2017; 12:33 am EST
This Week’s Creature Feature - Good-bye Terrapins
After raising terrapins from hatchlings, 3rd-graders release them at Poplar Island
The terrapins are now as tall as a cheeseburger, which is as big as two thumbs on top of each other. They were the size of a quarter when they came to Mrs. Debbie Hendricks’ third grade class at Arnold Elementary School on October 2, 2009. We raised them in a tank.
Their names are Flippers and Tsunami, and their favorite things to eat are fish and snails. Their birth certificate told us they were both girls. They were born on Poplar Island. But their mother wasn’t there, so we were giving them a little bit of a head start.
My favorite part of raising them was getting to weigh and measure them. My favorite terrapin was Flippers because she looks like she has a mustache.
On June 9, we took Flippers and Tsunami on an hour-and-a-half bus ride across the Bay Bridge to Tilghman Island. Then we got on a boat for a 15-minute ride to Poplar Island to take our two terrapins home.
About 100 years ago, there were houses and hotels on Poplar Island. But then it began to sink. [In 1997,] people began to remake it with dirt from the bottom of Chesapeake Bay [approach channels to Baltimore]. Now it’s very big [735 acres of wetlands, 840 acres of uplands and 140 acres of open water embayment]. But there are no trees on Poplar Island because the job of remaking it isn’t finished yet.
The terrapins rode in buckets with a little water. I got to carry one of the buckets. After we ate our lunches, we rode a little bus across the island to release the terrapins. A classmate picked up each terrapin and put it gently in the shallow water. Flippers didn’t know where she was and kept trying to figure out where to get out. Tsunami began swimming, turned around, said good-bye and left.
Watch a video of Flipper's release into the marsh at Poplar Island >>>