What we do...

Here at the TNPLP, we participate in a state wide research and conservation network to protect the Northern Diamondback Terrapin. 

We are careful to follow specific guidelines and protocol to ensure the safety of every adult, nest, and hatchling while identifying, weighing, measuring, and observing each and every terrapin we come across. This data is sent in to wildlife officials to help create a cohesive study throughout the state.

Measuring a female terrapin carapace length with a caliper

The TNPLP dedicates a 24/7, 'round the clock watch to patrol the area and look for gravid females, observe nesting behaviors as well as observing predation and/or illegal poaching. It is important that we educate the public on coexisting with the terrapins and to not disturb natural behaviors.

Female terrapin on the move

Sample Data Sheet 

Research Vehicle

The terrapins need our help...

Predated nest with dried up egg shells

There is an interesting history woven into the diamondback terrapin's past. They were extremely popular as the main ingredient in soup in the early 20th century. Fisheries up and down the east coast held thousands of terrapins of several subspecies destined for the soup pot. Once the dish declined in popularity, the fisheries released them without regard for location of the different subspecies. This may serve as some explantation for why the diamondback terrapin is so extremely variant in coloration and markings. 

There is a profound amount of small mammals and birds in the area, being so close to the Edwin B Forsythe Wildlife Refuge (a 47,000 acre wildlife sanctuary). Redwing blackbirds and crows easily locate nesting females waiting patiently behind them to snatch the eggs as the fall into the freshly dug nests. Raccoons have an infinite love for turtle eggs, purposely patrolling areas with the scent of naturally incubating nests. They will find an area and completely scavenge until they have rid the area of potential future terrapins. 

Predated nest

Gravid female crossing the road looking for a safe place to nest​

When females become gravid (carrying eggs) they elicit nesting behavior such as pacing, tasting soil, digging test holes and traveling. 

Roadkill female terrapin 

The traveling of these females is where a lot of mortality occurs. They come onto land and seek the right area in terms of soil consistency, temperature, distance from water and tide changes, etc., but in doing so they cross busy roads littered with summer shore traffic.  

Predated male terrapin

After brumation, this male terrapin was ripped out of the water most likely by a raccoon. Human encroachment has intensified the effect that raccoons have on terrapins and other native turtle populations. The constant increase in human activity and establishments has not only added to the attraction of a local food source, but also taken away from the forest and marsh. 

Many terrapins have drowned in crab pots. It is now required in the state to install TEDs or Turtle Excluder Devices to give the terrapins an exit and prevent mortality. For more information on the state regulations click here. These simple orange devices can be purchased online or in store and are very inexpensive. To purchase a TED in south Jersey, click here. 

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