Death Comes to Wapalanne

**Graphic Image Below**

<<Okay, computer appears to be finally functional again!  Both browsers took a vacation and I couldn’t upload photos off my phone for unknown reasons.  >>

Friday saw my return to Lake Walapanne at the School of Conservation for further adventure in turtle research.   Unlike Monday it did not begin raining upon my arrival, so things were looking up.  That was soon to change….

The plan was to set up traps in preparation for the herpetology program being held there for the next two weeks.  We hiked up the trail toward Spring Cabin, the rustic retreat of the D.E.P.  which was both rustic and remote.    Along the trail we set up minnow traps.  Returning to base camp, we finally located the missing funnel traps and headed back out to set the snake traps.

Rustic getaway of the NJDEP which is really rustic!

Rustic getaway of the NJDEP which is really rustic!

On our way back down the trail, we heard what sounded like a bewildered or very alarmed child in the daylight, but what could pass for a gruesome murder by the dark of night.  Hear for yourself.

Afterwards, we altered the plan and decided to check the basking traps via canoe before walking the perimeter to the check the hoop traps due to the chancy weather.   As we headed to the northern portion of the lake, the clouds began to roll in.

An afternoon thunderstorm rolls over Lake Walapanne.

An afternoon thunderstorm rolls over Lake Walapanne.

While the rain threatened, the thunder held off.  From all the traps, we collected a total of…… 1 turtle!   Which despite the lousy number, is actually very good news because data is data.

We processed BIO, the Painted Turtle.  Seriously, that was her name and when it came time to return her to the lake, it was pouring!   I drenched my loafers. (This was apparently a hard lesson to learn as I’ve soaked two pairs of shoes in 24 hours  Three pairs of shoes in 48 hours.).

Afterwards, we went to dinner.  When we came back, the other instructors for the Herpetology and Forensic Insects workshop were there.  So we went on a walk to insect the carcasses that were placed out to entice insects.

At the stillborn calf, we watched a fly lay eggs.

At the stillborn calf, we watched a fly lay eggs.

Apparently all the years of watching TV crime and forensic television allowed squeamishness to stay far from me!  The instructor placed 3 carcasses out in coyote traps (to prevent bears from feasting).  That night we walked to the three bodies to inspect the earliest arrivals.  The fly pictured above was in the process of laying eggs – you can see some just to the left – they’re the yellowish color in between the teeth.  As we poked and prodded the cow, the fly was indifferent.   Even touching the fly produced no observable change in behavior: she kept moseying down the tongue looking for an appropriate place for an egg dump.  During this process, I was also kicked by a dead sheep as these large animals are awkward to maneuver, especially when thawing!  But none the less it was a cool experience.

*Published in 1885, Wapalanne means “the stream whereon is the bald eagle’s nest” courtesy of Indian Local Names: With Their Interpretation By Stephen Gill Boyd.

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2 thoughts on “Death Comes to Wapalanne

  1. Sorry about the rain! I left Montana early yesterday because of predicted rain, the winds were already very strong.

    I think the fly eggs on the carcass is interesting but then I am not very squeamish either.

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