May 23, 2014
- as seen by -Nichole Shelmidine
It’s the second week of November. Every morning I check the incubator hoping that today is the day. I sigh. Maybe tomorrow we’ll have a hatchling.
For four years, my team and I have been working on breeding Chinese big-headed turtles at the Prospect Park Zoo. This is the second year we’ve had eggs. Last year we came close.
Once a week, we turn the room lights out. We use a candler to check on the six eggs in our care. This candler is a long, thin white tube with a pinpoint light on the end. When shined into one side of the egg, it gives us a window to watch as the embryo develops.
Within a week, we see ropelike veins forming, winding their way along the shell wall in all but one of the eggs. This egg is probable not fertile, but the others seem to be. Soon, we can observe a small, tight cluster of veins in each of those five eggs; this is the site where the hatchling begins to develop. Before long, the shape of the hatchling itself appears as a small, round, dark shadow.
I know that the eggs have come further this year.