Hey hey everyone, welcome back to another Cook County weekly update! I got back from Poland on the 4th of July, and after waiting 3 whole hours for my luggage to emerge from the conveyer belt (of course, it was the last one to come out), I was on my way home and ready to get some good sleep. HUGE shout out to Dr. Kaitlin, Carly, and Maris for helping Cook County out while I as gone, and for cat-sitting my cat! I forgot to check the weather, but Chris called me the next morning for a weekly weather update. He said it was going to rain all week, and that the river water level rose 3 feet just overnight. It was way too dangerous for us to go set traps, and we didn’t want to risk flooding them. We decided that we would check in with each other every morning to see if maybe it would be possible to set traps this week. Spoiler alert: we didn’t set a single trap in Cook… so off to Kane County I went!

          On Wednesday, I headed out to visit Maura and Dylan in Kane County. We were checking the traps that they set on Tuesday. Maura had to catch one more snapper for her project, so we kept our fingers crossed that we would see one in a trap that morning. As soon as we went and pulled the first trap, we saw a cute little painted turtle smiling at us! But something about that little smile was off… oh man, poor fella had half a face. We came to the conclusion that it must have been a predator injury, especially with the incisor marks on the painted turtle’s plastron. All of his injuries healed very nicely. This guy just really showed you how resistant turtles are. We took some samples and let him swim back home. Oh, we also named him Chomper. On our way back to the lab car, we literally walked right into a baby snapping turtle! Lucky Maura! Poor guy wasn’t doingso hot either. He was oddly very still and his mucous membranes were extremely pale. Like clockwork, we sampled him and I tucked him back into the forest near his swampy home. We headed over to Freeman Park to set up more traps, where Maura and I stumbled upon many crayfish, frogs, and even a Gardner snake!

          On Thursday, I returned back to my friends at Kane to help them with telemetry. It was time to re-check the Blanding’s turtles that have transmitters on them. I have a bone to pick with telemetry through. I mean think about it, we can track the turtles but that’s only half the battle. The other half is actually reaching down into the muck and REALLY finding them. This is where “drone turtles” comes into play. Imagine how much more efficient we could be if we attached drones to these turtles and any time we needed to find one, we just pressed a button for the drone to life that turtle up in the air. I need to pitch this to Dr. Allender. Anyway, back to telemetry… yeah it takes a lot of time to catch these guys while they’re swimming in the water. But, we got 4 Blanding’s in just one day! We went back to Freeman after to go check traps, where we found two small painted turtles just vibing.

          On Friday, I was tasked to start writing the introduction to my paper. I headed over to the library and spent all day looking up research papers and gathering as much information I could so I could write a strong introduction. I returned Saturday and did the same. Although I have made a ton of progress (in fact, I just finished my first draft an hour ago), I bet you I will be making a TON of edits. It’s all part of the process!

         As of right now, we will be setting traps in Cook tomorrow morning. The weather looks promising this week and I need 13 more softshells!