Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Reptiles’ Category

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

Friday, 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 TheSandpaper.net 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.

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WILDLIFE WEDNESDAYS SUMMER PROGRAM MAKES A SPLASH FOR ASBURY PARK STUDENTS

Friday, August 7th, 2020

by Morgan Mark, CWF Intern

CWF took Asbury Park School students on a virtual field trip to the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center in Barnegat Bay.

Asbury Park elementary schoolers participating in the district’s Summer Enrichment Program have had a wild reason to look forward to Wednesdays this summer – Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s virtual Wildlife Explorers Program sponsored by New Jersey Natural Gas. 

CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio has been teaching students about the wildlife that lives, breeds, and migrates in their community. Virtual field trips, engaging lessons, and live webcams have exposed elementary schoolers to a gamut of topics ranging from oystercatcher adaptations to ocean litter.

This two-month curriculum reinforces the Asbury Park School District’s emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and gives students access to nature right from their own homes. To participate in activities authentic to biologists, students have been recording weekly observations and data in science field journals, holding meaningful discussions about the environment, and completing at-home activities.

“New Jersey Natural Gas has been involved in the Asbury Park community for nearly 70 years,” said Tom Hayes, the Director of Customer and Community Relations. “Strengthening sustainability and engagement in our communities, especially educating about our environment, are the main focus of our community involvement, so this is exactly the type of program we are excited to be a partner on.”

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New Terrapin Garden Grows in Little Egg Harbor

Monday, July 20th, 2020

By Pat Johnson

Two year old terrapin. we found on the road shoulder.

CWF Habitat Manager Ben Wurst is known first and foremost for his work with New Jersey’s resident Osprey population. The job of a habitat manager doesn’t stop with ospreys, however. Ben’s work creating gardens for Diamondback Terrapins to safely nest in was recently the spotlight of an article by Pat Johnson of The Sand Paper.

Check out the excerpt below and read more on TheSandPaper.net!


Like tiny air raid shelters, protective cages sheltering the terrapin nests along Great Bay Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor keep them safe from predators, among them crows and gulls from the air and foxes and raccoons on the ground. The Great Bay Boulevard Terrapin Habitat Project site, commonly called the terrapin garden by its founder, Ben Wurst, habitat project manager for the Conservation Foundation of New Jersey, already has at least 50 nests on its sandy beach next to the salt marsh.

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Looking for the shy bog turtle

Monday, June 1st, 2020

by: Meaghan Fogarty, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Intern

Photo by Eric Sambol

Note: For the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and the communities where we work, CWF staff and volunteers are practicing social distancing and following all state and CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Two days before Governor Murphy announced the statewide stay-at-home order, the first day of spring had sprung. Human life came to a screeching halt, but the natural world nevertheless began its annual transition towards warmer weather, longer days, and new life.

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The Terrapin’s Troubles, State of Change Podcast, Episode 4

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

The diamondback terrapin is one of the most beloved species of New Jersey’s coastal salt marshes. Their popularity has not protected them from the rapid development of our coast however, and climate change is calling their future into question. 

Terrapin and human interaction has been fraught with peril for the turtles for a long time. They used to be considered a delicacy and were almost wiped by the 1920s when, in an odd turn of events, they were saved by prohibition. Turns out that once terrapin stew no longer featured copious amounts of alcohol, people noticed they did not, in fact, taste very good. 

The fourth episode of our podcast, State of Change, “The Terrapin’s Troubles” features John Wnek, Project Terrapin coordinator and supervisor and researcher at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES), and Ben Wurst, Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) habitat program manager.

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