STONE HARBOR, N.J. (AP) — Call it serendipity.
That’s the only way to explain how a female terrapin was found crossing a street in Stone Harbor on July 12 and brought back to the same conservation institute that rescued her as an egg, almost 19 years later to the day.
A concerned woman found the turtle and brought her to The Wetlands Institute, a non-profit coastal and wetlands conservation organization, which returned the turtle to the marsh. The Institute made a post on its Facebook page on Monday to celebrate the turtle’s resiliency.
The turtle was not new to the Institute. She was a head-starter turtle, which are typically hatched from eggs that were recovered from a road-kill female on her way to lay her eggs, according to Griffiths.
The conservation organization incubates and hatches the rescued eggs, keeping them for a year. They receive PIT tags, or Passive Integrated Transponder tags, which are placed under the skin to be read. The tags help researchers know the turtle’s age and other information, and helped identify this recent female turtle as a former head-starter.
“And after a year, when they grow a bit and get stronger, we release them back into the marsh,” he said. “We give them a head start into their journey into the marsh.”
This particular turtle’s tag read July 13, 2000, which may be the date she was released, or it could be the date she was tagged, Griffiths said. She also had two distinct previous injuries — a notch on the top of her shell and one on the underside — that were possibly from boat propellers. Both injuries had healed well and she was healthy, the post said.