Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘terrapin’

Reducing Roadkills of Terrapins in S. Ocean County

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018
Dedicated volunteers help reduce mortality of adult female terrapins

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Volunteers Elizabeth and Courtney measure the height of a female terrapins carapace.

Now that Northern diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) are officially considered a nongame species, our work to help conserve breeding adult females is more justifiable. Before July 2016, adult terrapins, including egg bearing females, could be harvested during an open season from November to March. With that said, it was troublesome to know that a 15+ year old female that you helped safely cross a road in summer, could be harvested, shipped to Asia and eaten only a few months later… Now, we can rest (somewhat) easy knowing that the hard work of our dedicated volunteers will live on and help the population grow (there are still many threats to terrapins including collisions with boats, vehicles, poaching, drowning in ghost crab pots, etc…) (more…)

Volunteers help clean up critical habitat along Absecon Bay

Friday, November 3rd, 2017
Preservation of declining habitat is key to survival of high marsh wildlife

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Litter, debris and trash dumped at NJDOT Mitigation site on Absecon Bay.

As the sea rises, high areas on the coastal salt marsh will decline or disappear. These areas are higher in elevation and usually consist of more sandy soil. The sandy soil attracts nesting female diamondback terrapins, like many roadsides throughout New Jersey. As we harden shorelines to hold back floodwaters, terrapins will face more dangerous treks to find suitable nesting habitat, unless these high marsh areas are enhanced and elevations raised. For the past five years we have been surveying Route 30 (Whitehorse Pike) during summer months for the occurance of terrapins on the highway. Adult female terrapins enter the roadway while seeking these sandy areas above the high tide line. Most, if not all, do not survive crossing Route 30. (more…)

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…)

New Story Map Shows How Turtle Gardens Actually “Grow” Baby Terrapins

Monday, September 12th, 2016
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey Releases a New Story Map: “Turtle Gardens”

By: Michael Davenport, Wildlife Biologist & GIS Program Manager

The northern diamondback terrapin is an imperiled species of turtle found in brackish coastal waters along the northeast coast of the United States. Within New Jersey, much of the nesting habitat once used by terrapins has been lost to development and rising sea level. What little suitable nesting habitat remains is often inaccessible to terrapins due to bulkheads or other construction and road mortality is a major cause of terrapin mortality as they cross roadways seeking nesting sites.

Screen-shot of the Turtle Gardens story map.

Screen-shot of the Turtle Gardens story map.

Turtle gardens provide suitable nesting habitat for diamondback terrapins where little natural suitable habitat remains or is inaccessible. By enhancing the existing habitat at a site within the terrapin’s range to meet their nesting habitat requirements, terrapins can more safely lay their eggs within an area specifically set-aside for them.

CWF recently partnered with the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) on a pilot project turtle garden on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The newly released Turtle Gardens story map details this project.



Absolutely Fish Supports CWF Terrapin Program

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

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!