Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘great bay’

What did you do this summer?

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Experience gained; many terrapins saved!

by Kristin Ryerson, CWF Terrapin Project Intern

Kristin prepares to release the injured terrapin her Dad found on Rt. 72. Photo courtesy Kristin Ryerson

“What did you do this summer?” was a question I was frequently asked by family, friends and classmates when I recently returned to college this fall. Well, where to begin! Ben Wurst, CWF’s Habitat Program Manager, set a goal this summer to lower the number of road killed Northern Diamondback Terrapins on Great Bay Boulevard in Tuckerton, NJ. In previous studies, 50 terrapins could be killed in one nesting season—the main cause? People. Careless drivers who are either speeding or simply oblivious to the many yellow signs warning them of crossing nesting terrapins and the fact that they are in the middle of an extremely vital wildlife refuge. So, this summer, I had the privilege of being the Great Bay Terrapin Project’s Intern, and my job was to help save nesting terrapins crossing the road and to take valuable data on those I saw. Ben gave me some equipment and the knowledge I would need when working on the road. Through road patrols, educating the public, maintaining the previously installed barrier fencing, painting road signs and data collection, I learned more than I had imagined and had an amazing experience.


Terrapin nesting season begins

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Be Terrapin Aware this summer!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Last Thursday there was a flurry of activity throughout coastal New Jersey. It was one of the peak days of the beginning of the northern diamondback terrapin nesting season. I had scheduled myself to be off to work on projects around my house but ended up working for half the day on our Great Bay Terrapin Conservation Project. Female terrapins were everywhere! They were crossing all over Great Bay Blvd., a 5 mile long road that bisects pristine terrapin habitat. The shoulders of the road are suitable nesting habitat as well, so at times as many as 10-15 terrapins could be seen in one small section of the road. There were so many that one terrapin bumped right into another one on the shoulder of the road!! They were digging nests and laying eggs all over the place. It was certainly a rare sight. Luckily traffic was mild and  the weather was clear so there were little road kills. One female fell victim to a Little Egg Harbor Twp. mower who was mowing the edges of the road. This certainly wasn’t the best day to mow the shoulders! Before more terrapins could be killed we contacted LEHT public works and they called off their mower until further notice. On a side note, we have asked the township and the environmental commission to adopt a delayed mowed regime in the past and unfortunately one terrapin died because of this. I even emailed the public works director early last week about nesting activity picking up and I asked for him to please let me know when they were planning to mow so we could have someone walk in front of the mower to be sure no terrapins were hit. On the positive side, we were able to salvage 7 eggs from the terrapin, and they were successfully placed in a hatchery in Loveladies on LBI. We have our fingers crossed that they’ll hatch later this summer!

Finally, we have had more of a presence on Great Bay Blvd this year with the assistance of our new intern, Kristin Ryerson. She is collecting data (size, age, weight, and other data) on terrapins that she encounters while conducting road patrols on Great Bay Blvd. We’ll be using this data to compare it to some collected in Barnegat Bay and past studies that were conducted on the road. Her position is a volunteer position so I really appreciate all of her help so far! We also have volunteers who are acting as “Terrapin Stewards” where they also conduct road patrols to collect sightings of terrapins, educate visitors to the road about terrapins, and they also make sure terrapins safely cross the road. Without their help this project would not be successful!

Are you Aware?

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
Protecting Terrapins Through Education and Awareness

By Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Female Northern Diamondback terrapin by Jonathan Carlucci

Terrapins are ectothermic, or they are cold-blooded, and their activity is regulated by external temperatures in the environment. While they may be dormant at the moment, I’m far from that. I’ve never stopped working to protect terrapins from the end of last year’s nesting season. While it’s almost impossible to prevent every terrapin from being hit-by-car, it’s more important to highlight the need for protection and for people to become more aware of terrapins when driving.

Here are a few things I’m working on to help terrapins in the Great Bay area this year:
  • I’ve been working on getting some funding to help raise awareness, i.e. more X-ING signs, other signs (like “slow down, terrapin X-ING”) and other educational materials.
  • I developed an educational presentation about terrapins and our work to protect them. I just presented it for the first time a couple weeks ago at the Jacques Cousteau Coastal Educational Center in Tuckerton.
  • I have been in touch with the town engineer for Little Egg Harbor Twp. about lowering the speed limit on Great Bay Blvd. this year. The speed is currently 50mph!! For a road with soft shoulders (and in some areas, saltmarsh or shrubs that are growing onto the road), seven bridges, a lot of human use in summer, terrapins that nest on the edges and enter the roadway, and the fact that it divides a pristine Wildlife Management Area, it is just way too high.
  • I am attending both the environmental commission and town council meeting this month to address my concerns and to ask for their support for our project.
  • I recently met with officers from the Osborne Island Homeowners Association to assist them with protecting terrapins along Radio Rd.
  • I am developing a volunteer project where volunteers will help patrol area roadways to educate the public about terrapins, to help them cross roads safely, and to help document terrapins on roadways.
If you would like to help us protect terrapins in the Great Bay area, we could use your help!