— Written by Willow, 12-year old CELC student

There were a dozen or so 5-gallon buckets on the floor. Inside each bucket was water and a number of turtles – each one different.  Some were small babies, and others were full-grown adults. This odd sight was what welcomed me and my fellow CELC students to Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset State Park. Ranger Russ came and talked to us about all of the different types of turtles that could be found in Connecticut. We learned all twelve of them, from the Red-Eared Slider to the Box Turtle.

Meigs point turtlesWe were shown a turtle shell and told how the Native Americans used it as their calendar. There are thirteen main pieces on a turtle’s shell, and each of those represent a moon of the year. Around the outside edge of the shell, there are twenty-eight smaller pieces. Each of these represent a day of the month. Native Americans would mark off the days and then eventually the month.  This created a calendar very similar to the Julian one we use today.

Soon afterwards, we saw a turtle that had been struck by a car. As a result, its shell was cracked and damaged. At the time it was hit, it was not yet full-grown, so as it grew, the fracture widened. This could have been a serious problem, but scientists have found a rubber-like material that can patch up cracks and stretch as the turtle grows.  If you’re wondering how the turtle is doing, you’ll be pleased to read it is doing well!Meigs point turtles