Turtles, Turtles, Turtles

Today, we had a great visit with Dr. Windmiller.  We discussed many issues, including whether Zelva’s mother, turtle 2030, should continue to have her hatchlings placed in the Head Start program as well as what is the best habitat to release the headstarts.

I would you to comment on both points.

  •  Should turtle mother 2030 continue to have her hatchlings placed in the head start program due to the eating problems that some of her hatchlings are having this year.
  • What is the best habitat to release the head starts and why?
  • What type of data would you like to have the next time Dr. Windmiller comes in?



Posted on November 29, 2012, in Blanding's turtles, Data Analysis. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. EC19: I think 2030’s hatchlings should be headstarted and just because they might have a minor disability, they still need help. I think Moores Pond is the best place to release the headstart turtles in because of turtles in the past had gained more than 190 grams from the time they were released to the time they were checked on. The next time Dr. Windmiller comes I would like to get data of how many turtles died at young age before the program and how many turtles would have died this year if they hadn’t been headstarted.

    • Hi EC19,
      Thanks for your well thought-out comments and suggestions. It was great to all of you yesterday and I was very impressed by everyone’s thoughtful questions and ideas and also by your data analysis skills.

      Unfortunately I don’t have data on how many hatchling turtles typically die (or live) over the course of their fist year without being headstarted. It is very difficult to track the tiny newborn turtles. There are radio-transmitters that are just barely small enough to reasonably use but they have batteries that last only 2 weeks so that we would need to pay for a new transmitter every 2 weeks (that would cost nearly $5,000 per turtle each year). It also makes it practically impossible to track a baby turtle over the winter since it would be very difficult and stressful to the turtles (and to us!) breaking through the ice to find the turtle every 2 weeks. All I can do is wildly guess about the survival rates of non-headstarted turtles.

      I also appreciate your suggestion about headstarting #2030’s babies in the future and I agree that we shouldn’t abandon them because they may have disabilities. The main problem is that, as I mentioned in class, I am required (by the state of Massachusetts wildlife officials) to take no more than about 50 hatchling Blanding’s turtles from Great Meadows into headstarting programs each year. That means that in most year I need to let a bunch of the hatchlings go without headstarting. My inclination has been to try and choose the hatchlings that I think will do well in the headstarting, since obviously if they die (or don’t grow much) we haven’t really helped them. I have made no decision about this for the future though and am very interested in hearing more from you and your class about #2030’s babies. We’ll also see how well they do for the remainder of the year.

      As for Moore’s Swamp, I totally agree that it seems to be the best location we’ve yet found for the young Blanding’s turtles after their release. I was amazed at how big turtle #37 was when we caught him early in November! I am looking forward to working with you all on plotting a graph of how well our headstarts have grown in Moore’s Swamp and in the other release locations when I come back to your class in December.

      Have a great weekend,

  2. EC18
    Turtles, Turtles, Turtles

    I would like you to comment on all three points.
    Should turtle mother 2030 continue to have her hatchlings placed in the head start program due to the eating problems that some of her hatchlings are having this year?

    What is the best habitat to release the head starts and why?

    What type of data would you like to have the next time Dr. Wind-miller comes in?

    I think that we should continue to put turtle-mother #2030’s turtle hatchlings in the Head-Start program for Blandings turtles. This is because all endangered species deserve a chance at survival. And Zèlva didn’t have an eating problem after about 3 weeks of feeding.

    I think that the best place to release the turtles is Great Meadows. Because when we looked at the data for morning work, the numbers showed that Great Meadows turtles weighed quite a lot.

    I would like to see the mothers’ data because we have studied the hatchlings’ data but we haven’t studied the mothers’. I think that we could either make line plot or bar graphs to represent this data.

  3. Question 1: I think that turtle mother 2030’s turtle babies should take a one-year break from the head start program, but turtle scientists should put something on them that allows them to be tracked. Then they can compare the weights of the turtles at the end of the year that were in the wild to the weights of the turtle on the previous year that were in the classrooms. Depending on the results, the turtles could or could not go back into the classrooms.

    Question 2: Probably a habitat that has plenty of food and shelter is the best spot to release the head start turtles in because then they will be broken into life in the wild more gradually. I believe that they should get used to their natural habitats gradually and be put into the easiest parts of it first because unlike the other turtles, they haven’t had any experience running away from predators, catching their own food, or basically taking care of themselves on their own. They should be put into life as a beginner, because that’s what they are.

    • Question 3: If the turtle scientists decide to do the experiment I mentioned in my first answer, then I’d like to have the results of that test. If that data is not available, then I would want to have more data about the average weights of blandings turtles born around the date that Washington and Zelva were born. Then I could compare the weights and see what the averages are.

  4. I think we should use the Blanding turtles from mother 2030 because they probably wouldn’t survive If we didn’t head start. Also if we don’t show them how to eat they wouldn’t survive. I also think we should head start the turtles in Moores swamp because most of the turtles there gained more weight then before, and there are lots of hiding places for turtles. When Dr. Windmiller comes again we should talk about how many turtles comes out of each nesting place.

  5. I think that we should continue to head start mother 2030 because just because they might have inherited a digestion defect from their mother doesn’t mean they should be left to die or suffer in the wild while other turtles who were born healthy get cared for. It would be unfair, because when a kid (maybe like August in the book Wonder) is born with a defect, we don’t just leave them on their own. We care for them and help them learn to overcome the challenge of having their own difficulties. Even if it costs more money to care for them, they should be cared for, and I think the other healthy turtles should be cared for too. Dr. Windmiller said something about his only being able to take fifty turtles out of the wild every year- if that’s negotiable, he should try asking for permission to take more turtles to classrooms to be head started.
    The best habitat to release the turtles has got to be Moores Swamp. The data that we got showed that the turtles who were gaining the most weight (therefore getting more food) lived in Moores Swamp. This is definitely a good place for turtles, old and young, to live, because they will probably gain the most weight and then be very healthy (or at least very well fed). The town shouldn’t try to ‘clean up’ Moores Swamp, because the messy trees strewn everywhere that people think are bothersome- that the town would probably take away- are actually, as Dr. Windmiller said, the homes and hiding places and survival places for Blandings’ turtles.
    I would like to have more of the weight data- initial weight, last weight, and change- to compare the three habitats, Moores Swamp, Great Meadows, and Vernal Pools.

  6. Question 1: First, I want to start with if they should release turtle 2030 babies in captivity into schools anymore, if they do then the turtle will suffer, and the students and teacher suffer from watching the turtle suffer, so overall a lot of people suffer. Say you have a cat and it is suffering, you would want to put it down right? I do not think Turtle 2030 babies should be put into captivity, This may sound harsh, but it is not meant to sound that way, I think they should just out into the wild and let it die so it does not suffer. Those are my thoughts, but if you have a different opinion then please comment on this post telling what your opinion is.

    Question 2: I think GM (great meadows) is the best place as a habitat for the turtles, since I have been there I think it is a perfect fit for the turtles, it has some high grass in the water so they can protect themselves from predators that attack them. It also is very quiet and peaceful so the turtles can live in harmony.
    Those are my thoughts, but if you have a different opinion then please comment on this post telling what your opinion is.

    Final Question: Some data I would like to have from Dr.Windmiller is updated facts about turtle 2030 and her family. I want to know why her babies have eating problems and if it is something wrong with her and if it will pass on to her babies and their babies and their babies, and on. Those are my thoughts, but if you have a different opinion then please comment on this post telling what your opinion is.

  7. I think mother 2030 should and should not have babies.I think she should have babies because there is a chance that the turtle could not have distorters and be a normal turtle.But then there is a chance that the baby could have distorters.In addition to that it would be very cruel not to put the baby’s in the head start program and let them die in the wilderness.So my opinion is to try to put the baby’s in the program
    .For the second question I think I would choose great meadows in several ways.One way is Great Meadows is densely populated with turtles so if we put more in the population of turtles will rise.My second reason is if we put them in Moores swamp there is the debate about draining the water out.If that happened it would be very hard for young turtles to survive.If they went through with the draining a smart idea would be to take the turtles out and other wildlife out.For the final question about the data i would like to hear about the weights of other families.Also I would like to figure out what disease are killing the turtels.

  8. I think that it is a good idea to keep headstarting the turtles from #2030, as Lila said earlier. Even if they come from a slightly wayward mother, I think it doesn’t matter. If Zelva’s sibs are not eating with extra care and attention, they would most definitely starve on their own.
    As a solution to having only a maximum of fifty headstarted turtles, I think that Dr. Windmiller should just headstart fewer turtles from that mother.

    I think it is a good practice to headstart the turtles in three different locations. If something were to happen to Great Meadows, the vernal pools, or Moore’s Swamp, at least turtles in the other two locations will be safe.

    At the moment I am satisfied with the amount of data Dr. Windmiller is giving us, my only request is that we go on a trip with him to check out the turtles with him.

  9. I think the 2030 turtle should not have head start babies due to the eating problem because that was a big effect on the data. Some of the turtle might have problems with eating again.

    The best place in my opinion is Moore Swamp because it is perfect for the baby turtles so they can hide under the fallen trees and easily get food easily. So if I were a baby turtle I would want to be raised in Moore Swamp.

    The type of data that I would want is the mode. It tells us what the average of the data so it will be easy to point it out what the average of the weight is.

  10. I think the best place to let go of the turtles is Moorse Swamp because there is more food choice there. The turtles that do the Head Start program are not used to finding food so when they are released there it will be easier for them to find food. Yes I think they should use the Mother 2030 eggs because if Zelva is doing really well maybe the next year turtles will do as well. I would like data on which ones are males and females.

  11. EC:3

    I think we should continue to head start turtle mother 2030’s babies because they won’t survive in the wild, even if they hatch and make it to the water.
    I think the best habitat to release the head starts in Moores Swamp. This would be the best place because, 1: all the fallen trees make good hiding places for the turtles, and 2: most of the turtles gained a lot of weight, so that means there is a lot of food.
    I would like to learn more about the turtles in Moores Swamp.

  12. Question 1. Yes, mother 2030 should continue to have her hatchlings placed in the Head Start program. Because if they didn’t they will die in the wild because they can’t get/catch their own food.

    Question 2. They best habitat would be Moorse Swamp. Because they are not used to finding on their own so Moorse Swamp would be a better choice because it has more food choice.

    Question 3. I would like to do more range on Turtles. And I want it to be harder problems this time.

  13. Mother 2030’s hatchlings should not be in the headstart program, even thought the headstarter’s program probably helps her children, including Zelva. This is my opinion because the eating problem mother 2030’s children are facing could be a problem involving the headstarter’s program. When we bring them in classrooms, classes like ours are feeding them food that would not be found in the wild. When released, the turtles will be confused about food and how to catch it. It will be different because of the change in diet and thee catching of food (versus a different diet and food not found.) During this confused mode, the turtles will lose weight quickly from loss of food, and turtles like mother 2030’s turtles cannot afford to lose more weight. This would not be a problem if the turtles were never released, but I think they should be able to live in the wild where they belong.

    If the headstaters program keeps going, the best place to release the would be Moore’s Swamp, for the reasons I am about to explain. Moore’s Swamp has an unlimited amount of wildlife, plants, and beavers. Other places don’t have this, and these three things are essential for confused turtles. When beavers build their dams and flood the swamp, it becomes shallow and easy for turtles to live in. Another benefit from this is when trees around Mooore’s Swamp gets too much water, trees fall over and die from water clogging up their bottoms. After they fall, they create a nice place for tiny turtles to hide and catch food. Also, every turtle does well with food such as wildlife and plants!

    Next time Dr. Windmiller comes in, I would like to see more data such as: the grams of newborn turtles and the grams of the same turtle when the it is released. This will help me find how much the turtle has gained in weight. This will help me find the benefits of the headstarters program. I would also like to see all the Great Medows turtle’s weights sorted into families so I can compare the weights in the families and see if any similar problems run through the family (weight, length.)

  14. I think turtle mother 2030 should keep laying eggs for the head start program because if she starts to stop the population of the turtles will drop. I think the Moores swamp is the best place to release the turtles because it has a various amount of hiding places for the turtles to hide. All of the fallen trees make homes for fish that the turtles eat so they get a pretty good place to live and to find food. Next time Dr. Windmiller comes in to check on the turtles
    I would like him to bring in some turtle hatchling data sheets that tell the hatchlings of each mother turtle in Massachusetts.

  15. Question One: I do not think that we should let turtle mother, 2030, have more children. Her children are born with genetic problems. Based on Zelva’s odd behavior I think the genetic problems have been passed onto her babies. When Zelva mates they will have kids of their own. Their turtles will, most likely, have Zelva’s genetic problems. This problem will continue throughout turtle number 2030’s lineage. As turtle number 2030’s family grows larger. Their will, eventually become more of the genetically disabled Blandings Turtles. Since Zelva seems to enjoy “wrestling” with Wasington. She might be a threat to the baby Blandings Turtles.
    I do not want turtle number 2030 or her children to be put to sleep. I think the scientists should keep Zelva in their headquarters. The scientists at Great Meadows should also make sure that Zelva and her siblings and mother number 2030 doesn’t have a greater amount of kids than she already has given birth to.
    Question Two: I think the best habitat to release the Blandings Turtles in is Morris Pond. When I looked at the turtle data I realized that the turtles released into Morris Pond gained the most weight compared to the Blandings Turtles from the two largest lakes at Great Meadows, and the Vernal Pools in the Great Meadows area. It also provides a better habitat. Since beavers live there, there a lot of fallen trees and their roots in the water. The trees’ roots provide a hiding place for the Blandings Turtles and protection from their turtles predators.
    Question Three: I would like to have all the turtle data from turtle number 2030 lineage as far as the park can trace back. I would enjoy seeing if all of its ancestors had the same genetic problems she faces. The next time Dr. Windmiller come in I also would have the turtle data for Washington’s ancestors to see if any of Washington’s ancestors had any problems similar to Zelva’s. By having that data, I might be able to see if their was anything wrong with the turtles from earlier time periods who might have had problems similar to Zelva’s. I would enjoy seeing if something had become out of order with the turtles in Great Meadows at an earlier date in time, when Zelva’s and Washington’s ancestors were still alive and much younger.

  16. I think mother 2030 babies should go through the head start program. If they still act crazy I think we should not let the turtles through the head start program. If the turtles do not act crazy they should continue going through the program. I think the turtles should be released in Moore’s Swamp because in the data turtles were getting bigger in Moore’s Swamp while in Great Meadows the turtles are losing weight. In Moore’s Swamp it is easier for baby turtles to hide because of fallen trees and cattails. I would like to make line plot graphs on weight and length data.

  17. I think we should not use the turtles that come from Mother 2030 any more because they do not want to eat and we cannot make them eat. They may die anyway.

    What is the best habitat to release the head starts and why?

    Moore’s swamp is the best place to put turtles in because it is flooded. This is good because there are more hiding spots from predators. There is more food because there is a bigger area. The turtles in this area had the most gain weight.

    I would like to see data on how many are adults and how many are babies.

  18. chickenlover7 (a.k.a. Lila)

    I would like to tell you about what we did today. Our school turtle expert Dr. Windmiller came with a camera man that said that we are going to be in a documentary! This is what we discussed.

    Question 1.
    I don’t know what to think about the turtles from mother 2030. It does not seem fair to just give up on a little baby turtle who can’t survive by him or herself because its siblings didn’t turn out well. But Dr. Windmiller said that he could only take 50 turtles a year so I don’t think we should waste it on turtles that won’t come out right. I don’t know what to think.

    Question 2.

    I think we should let them go at Moores Pond because there are good hiding places and the turtles would be with more of their own kind.

    Question 3.

    For the future morning work I would like to collect data about how long a turtle survives at GM compered to how long it lives at MP.

  19. I think we can continue using them, because we helped them survive.

    I think Moore’s Swamp, because the data shows the turtles gained more weight when they live in Moore’s Swamp.

    I would ask Dr. Windmiller, “what age the Blanding turtles stop growing?”

  20. I think Dr. Windmiller should not take turtle mother number 2030 hatchlings because it is a waste of 50 turtles. Most of the hatchlings are not eating. I think that the best habitat for the turtles would be Mores Swamp because the turtles that live there happen to be gaining a lot of weight in a good way. I would like to study the weights and the lengths of the turtles born by turtle number 30 from the last 5 years. The class has been studying mostly about Zelva and not that much about Washington. We could compare the data to make better decisions on what to do with the turtles.

  21. Turtle, Turtle, Turtle

    For first question, I do not think that we can take Zelva ‘s mother’s babies. Turtle 2030’s baby can’t eating very good, but if they lose their mother, they won’t be eating. So they will die.

    For second question, I think the turtle had better live in Moore’s Swamp because when I looked at the graph, I saw the turtles that lived in Moore’s Swamp are growing very well. If you look at the other two groups, you will discover that the turtles lose weight.

    For third question, next time when Dr. Windmiller come to our class, I’d like to learn something which about panda!

  22. EC:5

    Question 1:I think that we should keep taking care of mother 2030’s babies because maybe later on Blandings turtles could find out maybe what the problem is with mother 2030 or her babies.

    Question 2: I think that the best place to put the head start turtles is Moore’s swamp because the data shows that most of the turtles that are released there have gained weight in stead of losing weight.

    Question 3: What I would like to do next for data is maybe make bar graphs for each place that you can release the turtles to, then you could compare them.

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