Slow & Steady Wins The Race

Springtime on Fishers Island brings us ALL out of our shells! Please drive with awareness – Don’t Speed -and enjoy our Turtles even at a snail’s pace!

– A Snippet from The Field by Justine Kibbe April 14, 2017.


I like to think that small island dishing and tattling has been replaced these months with fishing and paddling. It’s something to behold-literally, when I can witness the rippling out of sightings and stories that are helping residents here share and instill local traditional knowledge into our own natural history and heritage. Take for instance islander Tracy Brock’s photo of a juvenile green sea turtle. Winding up snorkeling in West Harbor on a Sunday afternoon, she happened to glimpse gliding movement through waving Eel grass. All ready to call it a day, she was amazed to be gifted with a somewhat rare moment (and happen to have the old underwater camera). I told her I was thrilled; as shared communication of healthy, thriving Eel grass meadows in both Long Island and Fishers Island Sounds is vital to our community.  Excitedly, the next evening I related to fourth grader Benjamin Edwards who was sifting through sands on Dock Beach that “out there” a young sea turtle was growing up before our very eyes and added “there could even be family”!

And scuttlebutt has it that several days later dad Jeff Edwards tracked me down at Race Rock Garden Co. to share that afterwards Benjamin actually sighted a sea turtle surface during his rowing class. Somehow enthusiasm convinced us all that perhaps it might even be the same individual turtle Tracy photographed.

And to folks who for years have worked here and help keep Fishers Island afloat; commuting on morning ferries above sea grass meadows in West Harbor-the Baby Doll, Popeye, and Red Sky; word of mouth has it that we are all of us locals, that we all have a stake in conservation here, and we can’t do it without each other. That’s the best story- so pass it on…


Rounding the bend opposite Pickett Landfill, I note the tiny carapace (upper shell) of Baby Snapping Turtle- wobbly but making its way across the warm paved path towards a rippling pond.
I put on the brakes, hop off my bike and kneel- wobbly myself, steadying my camera.

For an instant I believe I am Kin, a subtle yet strong sense of imprinting gazing towards me….

My bike helmet (upper shell)!

of course…..

A Brief Summary:

I walked beside and inside a marsh today.

I happened upon a female Snapping Turtle.

Ever so slowly she dug into the mud, excavating her deep nest.

Buried and hopefully hidden safely in the soft “digs” could be a clutch of 20-40 eggs.

The turtle plodded back into the murky, aquatic habitat.

Expected to arrive in about 90 days, her hatchlings are left to fend for themselves.

And there are predators like snakes, raccoons, and crows-even this morning I notice curled pieces of delicate turtle egg shell debris.

September 8 @ 12:35pm: I Came upon a washed up, dead Leatherback sea turtle on Chocomount beach this afternoon. I was, dare I say pleasantly surprised. It was Interesting to see a beachgoer walk right past it-going unnoticed. I took photos and sent along data to Mystic Aquarium as part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. I am happy to find out that fellow Islanders Joe & Carol Hirshfield are also on this Network team.



On a mid August evening, while sitting upon a large rock  to the right on Chocomount overlooking the Wreck of the Thelma Pheobe I observe two Ospreys dive with torpedo -like precision. One snatches a Porgy and heads west overhead.

I also see what appears to be a bobbing piece of driftwood. Then I think, no it’s a wee baby Sand shark with a swish of its fin. I walk waist deep into the surf and discover a Snapping turtle.  An unusual sight I’m thinking. The turtle stretches its neck to get a better view of the shore. It swims and crawls upon the first seaweed covered rock perhaps heading for the brackish pond beyond… “ahh Terra Firma”   I announce in a congratulatory way…or is that “Terrapin Firma”!