Friday, May 29, 2009

Turtle Journal team to speak at Mattapoisett Land Trust Annual Meeting

Mattapoisett - Don Lewis and Sue Wieber Nourse, the Turtle Journal team, will offer a multimedia presentation on turtles of the South Coast and Cape Cod on June 6, for the annual meeting of the Mattapoisett Land Trust at the Friends Meeting House on Route 6 in Mattapoisett.

The public is invited to attend the meeting, which begins at 1 p.m., and a potluck supper that will precede the meeting at noon.

Through the magic of virtual media, Lewis and Nourse will transform the Meeting House into a summer field site, so that kids from 4 to 100 can experience the transformational adventure of turtle exploration and discovery.

Lewis and Wieber Nourse will share their experiences working with rare and endangered turtles, rescuing stranded sea turtles, protecting young hatchlings, and generally saving the world one turtle at a time

In lights and sounds, turtles will wake from a long winter slumber to emerge from primordial ooze and bask in spring sunshine. Once warm and active, adults will wander into the singles’ bar, known less affectionately, albeit more scientifically, as a mating aggregation. Weeks later, females will trek over obstacles to reach their natal nesting sites and deposit a clutch of eggs representing the next potential generation of turtles. As the season progresses, hatchlings will puncture their eggs with a singular egg tooth and emerge from the sand to take their first breath of life as they scramble to the relative safety of nursery habitats.

Whether a threatened diamondback terrapin or a protected Eastern box turtle, these listed species will reveal secrets about what makes shelled critters such wild and wonderful bellwether species within Nature. As their populations tumble, so goes the quality of the world around us. As they prosper, we see positive advances in the quality of our own lives, too.

Five species of endangered and threatened sea turtles that inhabit our bays and coastline will visit the Meeting House virtually. A 950-pound leatherback sea turtle, mortally trapped in lobster buoy lines, will be disentangled and rescued. The audience will patrol storm tossed beaches of Cape Cod Bay in a fall nor’easter to rescue the most endangered sea turtles in the world, Kemp’s ridleys, as well as loggerheads and green sea turtles.

If the weather gods cooperate, a couple of surprise hard-shelled guests will join the presentation to personally greet each and every member of the audience, and to reveal … in their own reptilian way … what it’s like to be a plodding turtle struggling to survive in an overly caffeinated, adrenalized and asphalted world. In other words, “turtle talk” straight from the cold-blooded soul of a reptile. The Turtle Journal team will be on hand to translate.

Lewis is spending the next six months as the Chief Operations Officer of the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay to deliver a new marine animal hospital on the west bank of Cape Cod Canal at the gateway to the most active stranding hotspot in the Americas. The NMLC hospital will provide medical treatment and rehabilitation to stranded and injured sea turtles, seals, porpoise, dolphins and small whales. See Lewis is the lead investigator, in partnership with Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, in a three decade longitudinal study of Outer Cape terrapin populations. He is founding partner of Cape Cod Consultants, providing more than a decade of environmental solutions to companies and homeowners of coastal Massachusetts. Lewis can be reached by e-mail at:

Sue Wieber Nourse is a master educator and marine scientist currently on sabbatical from the Jaeger Chair for Marine Studies at Tabor Academy. Sue is a former president of Massachusetts Marine Educators, state representative of the National Association of Biology Teachers, state ambassador for the National Science Teachers Association and the first ever recipient of the Massachusetts Environment Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Ocean Education. With Dr. Neil Campbell, Nourse was a contributing author of the breakthrough biology textbook Exploring Life. She has led research studies on marine ecosystems from Maui to the Canary Islands and from the Gulf of Maine to the Virgin Islands. Nourse was one of the first women to descend to the ocean bottom in a deep sea submersible. She can be reached by e-mail at:

For more information on turtles and the Turtle Journal team, visit their exciting web site at


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