Red Belly Release TOMORROW 5/28

The following is a Media Advisory from MassWildlife:

RBrelease018As part of a conservation effort led by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), the public is invited to join Mary Griffin, Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, and MassWildlife staff biologists to help release 115 hatchling Northern Red-bellied Cooters in Middleborough. Originally known as the Plymouth Red-belly Turtle, the Northern Red-Bellied Cooters in Massachusetts are a disjunct population isolated from the next nearest known population located in New Jersey. These turtles are listed as endangered species at both the state and federal levels. They are the Bay State’s second largest freshwater turtle, second only to the snapping turtle.

When: Friday, May 28, 2010 10:30AM

Where: Long Point Road, between Pocksha and Great Quittacas Ponds, Middleborough (see below for directions)

The hatchlings were removed from the wild last fall and paired with partnering educational and scientific facilities from across the state as part of a program called “Headstarting.” Headstarting accelerates growth and reduces the likelihood of death during a turtle’s first year of life. As part of the program, cooperating partners raise the turtles in warm aquarium environments with unlimited food, allowing them to grow faster, and making them less vulnerable to predation when they are finally released. For a fact sheet about these turtles, go to:

Representatives from the following organizations partnered with DFG on the headstarting project: Zoo New England, Museum of Science of Boston, New England Aquarium of Boston, Berkshire Museum of Pittsfield, Buttonwood Park Zoo of New Bedford, National Marine Life Center of Bourne, the South Shore Science Center of Norwell, and the Thornton Burgess Society of Sandwich. Students from the following schools and colleges also participated in headstarting cooters: Andover High School, Dighton Middle School, Eagle Hill School in Hardwick, Essex Agricultural High School in Middleton, Gloucester High School, Lasell College in Newton, Leominster High School, Minuteman Regional Vocational and Technical School in Lexington, Norfolk Agricultural High School in Walpole, North Quincy High School, Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical School in Easton.

Directions to the Release Site: From Rte 495 take Exit 4 for Rte 105 south. Follow 105 through Lakeville center and past Assawompsett Pond on left and stay straight when Rte. 18 turns to the right. Take left on Long Point Road and follow across causeway between Pocksha and Great Quittacas Ponds to meeting/release site.