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Scientists Stick Their Necks Out Capturing A Decades-Old Turtle For Research Purposes

May 25, 2016

U-M biologist Christopher Dick examines the turtle. Dick is the director of the E.S. George Reserve.
Credit University of Michigan

A female Blanding's turtle believed to be at least 83 years old was captured by scientists at the University of Michigan E.S. George Reserve about 25 miles northwest of Ann Arbor. It is believed to be one of the oldest well documented Blanding's freshwater turtles still alive.

An 83-year-old Blanding’s turtle recaptured this week at the University of Michigan’s E.S. George Reserve northwest of Ann Arbor, near Pinckney. Researchers say it is the oldest well-documented Blanding’s turtle and one of the oldest­known freshwater turtles in North America.
Credit Christopher Dick

I spoke with the director of the University of Michigan E.S. George reserve near Pinckney, Christopher Dick.

Despite its age, this turtle is extremely healthy and carrying eggs and will likely give birth to 20 baby turtles by the Fall.

An 83-year-old Blanding’s turtle recaptured May 23, 2016, at U-M’s E.S. George Reserve.
Credit Roy Nagle

Researchers have not been able to track many turtles for this long.  They don't seem to die from old age, but by accident.

These studies help biologists determine how old a turtle can live.

This turtle will undergo genetic testing, be measured and x-rayed, then it will be put back into the water. Researchers say turtles could some day even be used for anti-aging research.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu