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Spiny Softshell Turtles

Spiny Softshell Turtles

LCMM Co-Executive Director Adam Kane shares his thoughts on Vermont Public Radio.

Annually since 2010 the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has been assisting McFarland Johnson Inc. an environmental consulting firm, under contract to VTrans to study the behavior of the spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera). Many of these turtles were tagged with radio transmitters to track their movements. But those batteries inside the transmitters wear down. Researchers first locate the tagged turtles' general location using their specific radio frequency. Then LCMM scuba divers pinpoint their exact location using an underwater metal detector and capture them by hand. The turtle is handed up to the research vessel where the transmitter batteries are quickly replaced. Then the very confused turtle is returned to its habitat! The project was implemented to determine whether constructing the new Route 78 Bridge between Swanton, VT and Alburgh, VT has affected the turtles; at the conclusion of the project in November 2012, the transmitters were removed.