Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Reptiles’ Category

Photo from the Field

Thursday, October 5th, 2017
The Lucky 8: Tiny terrapin hatchlings rescued!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A clutch of eight tiny terrapin hatchlings found beneath one of our X-ING signs. photo by Ben Wurst

While removing our seasonal (better late than never!) terrapin X-ING signs on Great Bay Blvd. in Little Egg Harbor yesterday, we stumbled upon some tiny northern diamondback terrapin hatchlings. These little guys were hiding or trapped under a very large (and heavy) X-ING sign made from old pallets that someone knocked over (I say guys because they hatched later in the season and it was a very cool August, but some could be girls). At first I didn’t see anything, but upon closer inspection I saw several hatchlings in the vegetation. One, two, three, four, five, six. Then I dug a little with my hand and found two more. The sign had been atop a nest. (more…)

How Plastic Pollution Impacts Wildlife – And What You Can Do!

Friday, August 19th, 2016
PLASTICS MAY THREATEN WILDLIFE FOR MANY YEARS

by Corrine Henn, Communication Coordinator

For those of us who call New Jersey home, we’ve all likely witnessed the impact human activities have on our environment and the species who thrive here. Although habitat loss, illegal poaching and invasive species can be equally devastating to an ecosystem, the presence of plastic pollution around our state is a threat that almost every individual can be found personally culpable.

A jellyfish & a plastic cup cover - which is which? It's easy to see how a sea turtle could get confused and accidentally swallow plastic. Photo by Mike Davenport.

A jellyfish & a plastic cup cover – which is which? It’s easy to see how a sea turtle could get confused and accidentally swallow plastic. Photo by Mike Davenport.

Although many forms of pollution impact our native species, the summer months at the Jersey Shore often result in a surge of plastic debris that are left behind or improperly disposed of. Plastic pollution impacts millions of wildlife species globally, and the diverse number of species in New Jersey are no exception.

The plastic pollution that accumulates in our waterways and elsewhere around New Jersey poses a serious threat to native species. Single-use plastic products like plastic bags, bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, straws, and even balloons are not only unsustainable, but particularly dangerous for the animals that may become entangled in them or accidentally ingest them.

Ospreys use trash as nesting material because (sadly) it is a plentiful resource that collects in the upper areas of the saltmarsh. It is a deadly component of their nests that easily entangles them. Do your part and pick up litter if you see it. © Ben Wurst

Ospreys use trash as nesting material because (sadly) it is a plentiful resource that collects in the upper areas of the saltmarsh. It is a deadly component of their nests that easily entangles them. Do your part and pick up litter if you see it. © Ben Wurst

A few years ago, CWF’s Habitat Program Manager Ben Wurst and his dedicated group of volunteers who monitor the osprey nests along the coast began to hold onto the trash and debris collected in and around the nests. While it may not be the most visually appealing educational resource, it made the growing problem of plastic pollution personal for Ben, in a way that words aren’t always able to convey.

Plastic bags, one of the most common single-use plastic products, were overwhelmingly prevalent in many of the nests. And osprey aren’t the only wildlife species facing this threat. Seals, terrapins, shorebirds, fish, whales, sharks and dolphins can also be impacted by plastic debris.

The presence of plastic in our daily lives is interminable and difficult to eliminate completely, but there are a number of things we can do to minimize the impact our habits may have on our wildlife!


Clean up after yourself:
Whether you’re spending the day at the beach, having a picnic by a lake, or tubing down a river, make sure you take any trash with you before leaving and recycle what you can.

Be mindful of your surroundings:
If you’re out and about and notice that someone left some trash behind, take a moment to throw it away.

Reduce your consumption:
A number of small changes from millions of people can make a big difference. For starters, invest in reusable shopping bags and water bottles. And cut down on the number of miscellaneous throw away plastics you use, including straws and plastic wrappers.

Donate:
Consider donating to CWF to support our conservation projects and ensure our biologists and our volunteers are able to continue surveying and aiding species in need.


LEARN MORE


 

Absolutely Fish Supports CWF Terrapin Program

Thursday, August 18th, 2016
DONATION SUPPORTS CONSERVATION OF NJ’S ONLY COASTAL MARSH TURTLE

by Corrine Henn, Communication Coordinator

Great Bay Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor is a favorite haunt for local fisherman, birders and tourists alike. While many locals and visitors celebrate the summer, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ’s Ben Wurst and his team of dedicated volunteers know that summer can mean something else entirely.

An increase in traffic on Great Bay Boulevard during the summer months threatens the survival of one particular species, the northern diamondback terrapin. Hundreds of female terrapins cross roads adjacent to their native habitat, our coastal estuaries, in search of suitable nest sites each year. Unfortunately, Great Bay Boulevard lacks a formal speed limit and mortality rates as a result of vehicle collisions are just one of the dangers the terrapin face.

“From what I’ve seen and experienced from the beginning of this project is that many more people are more aware of terrapins on the road,” said Habitat Program Manager, Ben Wurst. “It is critical to have the support of the local community as they are the ones who frequent the area the most and can really play a huge role in their long term conservation.”

Terrapin X-ing sign on Great Bay Boulevard. Photo by Corrine Henn.

Terrapin X-ing sign on Great Bay Boulevard. Photo by Corrine Henn.

The Great Bay Terrapin Project has done tremendous work to reduce road kill rates. More recently CWF has been collecting data to monitor the local population by taking measurements and notching individual terrapins as part of a mark-recapture effort. Our volunteers conduct road patrols to collect data on terrapins that are encountered on road and also help ensure that they cross safely. Along the most dangerous part of the road, a barrier fence helps to deter terrapins from entering the roadway. Both the fence and several “Terrapin X-ing” signs, have also aided efforts to curb mortality rates each summer.

An adult female northern diamondback terrapin hides within its shell. Photo by Corrine Henn.

An adult female northern diamondback terrapin hides within its shell. Photo by Corrine Henn.

Ensuring the future survival of the terrapin is, of course, a collaborative effort. We were especially thankful when Glenn Laborda, Dibyarka Chatterjee and Kristen Schmicker of Absolutely Fish presented Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey with a $5,000 check from the proceeds they raised throughout the Earth Day weekend in April.

Absolutely Fish has raised donations for CWF in recent years using a live educational terrapin on loan to the store from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences in Manahawkin, NJ.

A $5000 donation presented to CWF by Absolutely Fish for the Terrapin Project. Photo by Corrine Henn.

A $5000 donation presented to CWF by Absolutely Fish for the Terrapin Project. Photo by Corrine Henn.

According to Jennifer Ruivo of Absolutely Fish, “People come into the store specifically to see her and are generally much more willing to help, donate, or take information when we have a terrapin in store.” The turtle’s presence in the store garners support by bridging the gap needed for many to see that these animals, our neighbors, are in need of our support.

Following the donation from Absolutely Fish, Absolutely Fish representatives – along with Wurst and CWF Executive Director David Wheeler – conducted a survey of Great Bay Boulevard with CWF intern Carly Sibilia who demonstrated the data collection and notching technique of terrapins.

Stay tuned for post-summer update on CWF’s terrapin projects. And in the meantime, be mindful of your surroundings and be terrapin aware!


LEARN MORE


Keeping Turtles Wild

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
TURTLES SHOULD NEVER BE TAKEN FROM THE WILD!

by Kathleen Wadiak, CWF Intern

Have you ever seen a cute little turtle on the roadside or in a river or lake? Lots of people have had the pleasure of seeing turtles in the wild- as they are often easy to see and not too weary of people! This time of year, turtles are beginning to hatch after months of developing inside eggs that were laid in the spring. When turtles are just hatched they are the most vulnerable to predators and even humans! Most hatchling turtles can fit inside the palm of your hand. Often time humans have the misconception that a small turtle is a helpless turtle. Turtles are wild and unless they are trapped or diseased- they do not need our help!

A hatchling bog turtle. Photo by Kelly Triece.

A hatchling bog turtle. Photo by Kelly Triece.

If you find a turtle, please leave it – even if the surroundings seem strange to you, it probably feels right at home. Moving turtles away from their home range can cause disorientation and leave it vulnerable to predators or other hazards.

If a turtle is ON a roadway- then it can be quickly helped off the road! Please see our recent blog post about helping turtles on the road. If you do move a turtle off the road, never take the turtle to a completely new location. Finally, handle it as little as possible to reduce the risk of injury or disease for you and the turtle.

It can be exciting to see a turtle in the wild, and it may be tempting to continue to handle it or even take it home to keep as a pet; however, it is important to remember that they are wild animals and will live much better lives in their natural habitat than they will in a tank. In many cases, wild caught turtles do not adjust to captivity, as they do not react well to sudden space and dietary restrictions. Furthermore, only a small percentage of wild turtles survive to adulthood, so removing them from the population can be detrimental to that population’s future.

Thanks for helping us Keep Turtles Wild!


LEARN MORE


 

Tracking NJ Eagles: Update

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Larissa Smith: CWF Wildlife Biologist

Since the spring of 2014 CWF and the NJ Endangered and Nongame Spieces Program have been tracking a transmittered eagle named “Nacote”, D/95. He fledged from the Galloway nest (Atlantic County) in the summer of 2014 and made a trip up to Canada, he returned to NJ in Mid-October of 2014 and has been in southern NJ ever since, spending most of his time in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. He spend some time in April near his nest of origin at Forsythe NWF  where he was photographed.

D/95 "Nacote" at Tuckahoe Lake 7/21/16@ Kathy Clark

D/95 “Nacote” at Tuckahoe Lake 7/21/16@ Kathy Clark

In the past few weeks he has been in Upper Cape May County spending time at the county landfill and he even made an appearance at  Tuckahoe Lake behind our office. NJ ENSP biologist, Kathy Clark was able to get a photo of him perched by the lake.

Another eagle we are tracking “Oran”, fledged from the Egg Island nest, Cumberland County along the Delaware Bay in the summer of 2015.  In Mid-November he headed south and spent the winter down in the Chesapeake Bay area and returned to southern NJ in the spring 2016. “Oran” spent most of his time ranging around Cumberland County until making a bold move north in Mid-July. He flew to Maine in two days and then north into Canada, south of Quebec City.  He has been out of range and the last signal received was July 18th when he was at the Maine/Canadian Border.