Conserve Wildlife Blog

CWF In The News: Conserve Wildlife Foundation Reports Turtle Garden Success

September 18th, 2020

by Ethan Gilardi

A rehabilitated adult female northern diamondback terrapin that was released in late 2009 after being injured by a motor vehicle along Great Bay Blvd. © Ben Wurst

Northern Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) are a native species of New Jersey turtle, inhabiting the brackish waters of the state’s coastal salt marshes and estuaries. The survival of the species depends on the ability of female turtles to access safe nesting habitat every summer, a struggle for the species these days with roadways disconnecting large swaths of their habitat. To help give females a better chance of successfully reproducing, CWF partnered with New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife last year to create a half-acre “turtle garden” at a former marina within the Great Bay Wildlife Management Area.

CWF Habitat Manager Ben Wurst took Pat Johnson of to the site recently to survey the success of this new turtle garden and walk through what it takes to save a species like the diamondback terrapin.

Check out the except below!

It’s diamondback terrapin hatching season in the newest turtle garden established by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey in the Great Bay Wildlife Management Area. Project Manager Ben Wurst has been monitoring the 50 or so nests that were created this spring to protect them from predators so the hatchlings could have a fighting chance of survival.

On Sunday, Sept. 6, he was again checking the nests that had been covered with a protective cage, or “predator exclosure,” to see if any eggs had hatched. A number had, and the tiny footprints leaving the hole showed many had made their way into the nearby salt marsh.

But Wurst was not done. He slowly and carefully dug through the sand, pulling up empty, leathery egg shells and inspecting them for viability. Most were completely empty, meaning the tiny terrapins had hatched successfully, but two were only partially emptied and so were not viable after their three months of incubating in the ground.

More importantly, he found two baby turtles that had not yet clambered out of the nest. These were covered in sand and looked like black stones, but once rinsed in the saltwater lagoon, the beautiful diamond patterns of the scoots on their shells were evident.

“Don’t go anywhere,” Wurst said to them as he placed them by the excavated nest. Because they are reptiles, they needed to warm in the sun.


Read more about the Great Bay Terrapin Project here.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: