Like to garden? Love turtles? Live along the coast of New Jersey? Then you're in the right place!
Northern diamondback terrapins are an aquatic turtle who lives exclusively in brackish water, which is a mix of salt and fresh water. From May through July, adult female terrapins leave the safety of their aquatic environment to complete their life cycle and lay eggs. They seek out areas with sandy soil that are above the high tide line. Many historic and otherwise suitable nesting areas have been lost or degraded due to shoreline hardening and/or erosion from coastal flooding. To help provide suitable areas for terrapins to nest, upland areas with soft shorelines can be enhanced by placing a mixture of sand in these areas. Areas that would be suitable for sand deposition include open areas that are adjacent to coastal saltmarshes and roadways, or where terrapins are known to currently nest. The most easy areas to enhance are those that are in an upload or already developed area that has easy access to dump trucks for the delivery of sand. The sand is then spread by hand using a rake/shovel to create a mound that is not too steep on the sides and around 2 feet high above the surrounding habitat.
The enhancement of terrapin nesting habitat is not just as simple as dumping sand in your yard. There are many other important considerations to be sure the efforts are successful. Areas that are enhanced for nesting terrapins must be monitored for nesting to help prevent nests from being predated. Volunteers can be recruited to help monitor these gardens to collect data on nesting females and the number of eggs laid. Then they can install exclosures over nests to help prevent the eggs from being predated.
Visit a successful Turtle Garden at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences.
We are currently working with our partners to obtain funding and enhance nesting habitat on several large Wildlife Management Areas inlcuding, Sands Point Harbor Preserve, Upper Barnegat Bay WMA (NREF in Waretown), Manahawkin WMA, Great Bay WMA and Malibu Beach WMA.
If you're a landowner/homeowner who lives in any of these watersheds, please contact us to learn more about enhancing your habitat for terrapins: Barnegat Bay, Great Bay, and Absecon Bay.
Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager: Email
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