Thursday, May 1, 2014

Project Terrapin's Website

Check out the Project Terrapin website at

                                                 Project Terrapin is the home of SCUTES
                                                    our mascot!

Habitat Restoration

MATES Project Terrapin students reconditioned a terrapin nesting areas along Cedar Run Dock Road that was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.  The area will be monitored for nesting terrapins this season. 
Students from the Marine Academy of
Technology and Environmental Science's
Project Terrapin reconditioning a terrapin
nesting site at Cedar Run Dock Road on
April 25, 2014

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2013 Nesting Season

As of September 1, we've had 5 nests hatch and we've had an 89% hatch success rate to date.  With a cooler August, we will have hatching and emergence into late September this year.  Below are some hatchlings making their way to the marsh. 
Terrapin Hatchlings at N. Sedge Island on August 30, 2013

That was it!  Sixty-six total terrapins and only 29 nests at N. Sedge Island.  It is significantly lower in both captures and nests than in past seasons.  More to follow...

As on July 25, we have a total of 66 nesting females marked and 29 nests moved on Sedge Island.  Since we are at the end of the nesting season, this may be our final tally at N. Sedge Island.  My counterpart on LBI has over 1400 terrapin eggs rescued this year.  Great job to her and the dedicated volunteers that may help to save this species from being extirpated at Barnegat Bay. Hatching to follow...

As of June 19, 2013, we have over 20 nesting female marked and six nests moved on Sedge Island.  Kathy Lacey reported that over 400 eggs were moved to the hatchery on High Bar Harbor on LBI.  See our marked #16 female terrapin.  We marked them with a number after taking our annual measurements so that the female terrapin can nest, possibly come back, and we will not have to disturb her again.  Dont' worry, the paint is temporary and usually only lasts two weeks.  See some neat pictures below...

                                                  Female terrapin (#16) on N. Sedge Island

                                           Clutch of 11 eggs moved from construction on
                                           the east lawn to the hatchery.

                                           Annalee measuring eggs as part of the nesting
                                            ecology study at N. Sedge Island.

                                           Terrapin egg being massed at N. Sedge Island

We are in the midst of nesting season with three nests moved today and a total of 11 terrapins marked for the season.  All eleven occurred this week.  Much more to follow...

Nesting season kicked off with a flury of activity!  This past week has been busy in many locations.  We've only had three terrapins at N. Sedge Island so far, but have seen activity along Island Beach State Park.  Our LBI nesting area is extremely active.  Kathy and her volunteers are working very hard to move nests to the hatchery.    

Female terrapin nesting at Island Beach State Park
                                          on June 12 (code CIJVW) marked back in 2007.
                                          Notice the peeling outer layers of carotene on her
                                          scutes?  This is normal as she has indeterminant
                                          growth (sometimes < 1mm per year). 

Sadly, we've also had reports and encounters with terrapin boat and road mortality.  A large female terrapin was hit by a boat on Sunday June 9 and another on June 11 (all off LBI).  There have also been at least a dozen terrapins or more hit since this past Saturday on LBI and Tuckerton.  Please be terrapin aware! 

We kicked off the 2013 nesting season by releasing 52 "yearlings" at Island Beach State Park that were hatchlings from the Sedge Island Wildlife Management Area rescued in early October 2012.  Some of the terrapins were found also immediately after storm Sandy and released back to their homes.  Thanks to Lacey Middle School, Girard College School (PA), Lavallette Elementary School, Barnegat High School, Southern Regional High School, MATES and Jenkinson's Aquarium for their caring and raising of the hatchlings this year (photos below)...

                                        MATES Project Terrapin Hatchling Team at the release

                                                        Lacey Middle School "yearlings"

                                       Summer assistants Alex and Annalee marking hatchlings

                                                          Students releasing terrapins

                                                     Terrapin making its way back home!

We also are ready at Sedge for the 2013 nesting season.  It is up to the terrapins now!

Sandy's Effects

September 1, 2013...

  Our nests started to show signs of hatching and emergence.  We've had 5 nests emerge so far with an 89% hatch success rate.  Below is a picture of an emerging hatchling from nest #200.  We did have a reduction in nesting females, but the hatchlings are doing well. 
Hatchling from N. Sedge Island, Aug. 30, 2013
Update August 17, 2013...

We had a significant loss of nesting females at N. Sedge Island this year.  Was it due to Sandy?  We cannot say, but it could be a resutls of displaced female terrapins or loss of nesting area.  Annalee T. (field research assistant and Barnegat Bay Student Grant recipient) did a wonderful job presenting on the summer nesting season.  We are still awaiting the hatchlings (none as of August 15).  We expect them in a week or so as it is a late emerging year for hatchlings!  

Update July 28, 2013...

It seems that Sandy did have an impact on some of the nesting terrapins at North Sedge Island, however, we still had a good number of returning female terrapins.  Normally, we would have an excess of 80 terrapins marked for the year on the Island, but this year we had a total of 66.  Of the 66, 57 were previously marked females, and we had 9 new females that were not marked until this season.  We only had 29 known nests, a far cry from our 40 last year (including numerous unknown nests last year too).  On Sedge, we lost about 38 cubic yards of nesting material from the highest spot on the Island (see below).  We feel that enhancing the nesting area may encourage terrapins to nest in the future and that our nest numbers will be higher starting again next year. 

                                          Loss of sand at the highest area on N. Sedge
                                          Island, which is our most popular nesting

We have been assessing dunes along Island Beach, which suffered significant loss of sand in some places, but did the job in protecting the many back dune habitats, maritime forests, and bay-shore communities.  More terrapin nesting habitat has been created along the bay side areas with sand washed over (westward) from the primary dune structures. 

Sedge Island was hit hard, but the hatchery is up and running as of May 31, 2013, and so is the boat house lab.  We are patiently awaiting the females to come up and nest! 

Kathy Lacey and her awesome group of terrapin volunteers is conducting a massive clean-up on High Bar as part of Clean Ocean Action's Back to the Beach plan on Saturday May 18, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Update March 24, 2013

The clean-ups continue.  On March 23, thanks to several volunteers, the fifth wave at High Bar since the storm, picked up small debris items in which we filled at least four full bags and removed some debris. 
                                              Sifting through the debris (top), Kathy working
                                              to pick up the endless plastic pieces, and
                                              volunteers in upper beach zone working to
                                              collect as many pieces of materials as possible.

Clean-ups planned as follows (terrapin habitats)...

 April 6 - Island Beach State Park (dune grass planting and major cleaning  9 a.m. - 12 noon, -  e-mail to register) 
April 27- "F" Cove clean up at Trader's Cove (Ocean County Parks, Jersey Paddler and MATES) at 9 a.m. 

Extra-tropical cyclone Sandy left a path of devastation across the entire coastline of New Jersey.

Here is an update as of February 2, 2013...

Island Beach State Park (IBSP), with terrapin nesting habitat, has sustained damage, but it is indicative of barrier island function.  Sands have washed out in some places west into the back dunes and maritime forest areas.  However, despite the shift west, the Park staff and volunteers have been doing a tremendous job in making area accessible once again.  Volunteers and staff have found terrapin carapaces, and are sharing stories of finding dead terrapins as clean-up efforts continue.  We will keep track of these accounts and will continue to support the clean-up and recovery efforts along  marshes, bay beaches, and creeks that serve as critical terrapin habitat.

Our study sites along the mainland part of Barnegat Bay (Forsythe Refuge) have held up well.  The same is true for North Sedge Island (destruction to the docks), but the structures held up okay. 

Reports from Kathy Lacey state that northern parts of LBI (Barnegat Light and High Bar Harbor) have also withstood the devastation, but the amount of debris on the nesting areas is substantial.

Despite the devastation, IBSP is open to Bath House 1 for visitors and we will continue to clean-up our coastal habitats.  We will also be studying the "post-Sandy" effects on populations and nesting ecology.  Stay tuned as we are joining together researchers, students and volunteers to help us with this effort.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Terrapin Conservation 2013

Congratulations to our own Annalee T. who presented her research on the 2013 nesting season in comparison to past seasons.  Also, we are forming turtle road patrols for next summer at Island Beach State Park.  More to follow...

Signs are up at Barnegat Light, High Bar Habor, and Island Beach State Park.  Now that nesting season is winding down, mid-August will begin the time for hatchlings to emerge and they will sometimes cross the roadway too!

                                        Sign at Island Beach State Park installed in July

LBI and Island Beach State Park, please look out for the new turtle crossing signs.  Also, on LBI, be extra careful around the construction area on Cedar Bonnet as the new bridge construction areas may show a greater density of nesting females trying to cross route 72. 

                                              New signs!  They may be inviting, but they
                                               are very important.  Please keep an eye on
                                               them for us.  Signs at LBI are funded by the
                                               LBI Garden Club. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

2012 Terrapin Nesting Season

The end of the nesting season was on September 25, 2012 with over 500 hatchlings recovered, meaning a 75% hatch success rate at Sedge.  We also outfitted 5 terrapins with depth and temperature sensors that will (hopefully) be recovered in 2013.  Thanks again as we had a great yeat with terrific interns and volunteers.

It is hatching time!  We have recovered over 240 hatchlings as of August 27, 2012 out of 28 nests.  It is a good year so far.  Thanks Jillian, Dylan, Angelica, Estefany, Ryan and Juliet and helping with the hatchling recovery.

                                           Check out our hatchlings that we measure and
                                            release back to the marshes on N. Sedge!

At Sedge, we have moved and protected over 600 eggs with our last female terrapin disgging a nest on Tuesday July 17, 2012.  As we wind down the nesting season, hatching and emergence will be in the near future.  Thanks to Lauren, who coordinated the nest relocation project this summer. 

June 22, 2012 we fitted three female terrapins with temperature and depth sensors to determine annual exposure in terms of temperatures and depths that a female would encounter at Barnegat Bay.  We fitted old reliable, AHPW, along with BHIO and NPQW all funded by Exelon Energy Corporation, Oyster Creek.  Nesting season is going very well with 26 known female nests and 6 nests from unknown females.  This puts us at approximately 451 eggs protected as of June 22.  I would like to thank our awesome interns and volunteers for their work...
Lauren, Jackie, Juliet, Ryan, Lisa, Dylan and Jillian!  As of June 30, 2012, we are at 500 eggs and we outfitted terrapin AJVW with a logger (see picture below...).  Her datalogger was sponsored by the students at Cedar Creek Elementary School in Lacey Township as part of their generous donation to Project Terrapin. 

Terrapin code AJVW with transmitter on back left carapace

On Saturday May 26, our first female terrapin was captured on N. Sedge Island (code ACIW).  On Wednesday May 30, we found our first nest and marked two more female terrapins.  We welcome Lauren Cruz from the University of Delaware as a summer student researcher (see below).  Lauren is studying the effects of coastal upwelling events and how the reduced temperatures brought on by upwelling may impact nesting frequency.  We have a new hatchery on the Island as well!  On June 2, our familiar nester, code AHPW, came back to the Island for her tenth consecutive year.  We hope to see her in two weeks to fit her with a temperature and depth datalogger to determine what conditions she is exposed for a year.  We also had a female terrapin nest June 3 that was 2007 grams!  The largest ever measured on N. Sedge Island!

See our new hatchery below... Thanks Tony Raniero for the easy access design and look!

Lauren Cruz installing a "human traffic counter" as part of her terrapin nesting study on N. Sedge Island

2012 LBI Nesting Project

High Bar Harbor had a tremendous hatch success rate this year.  Over 1000 hatchlings emerged out of 1063 eggs.  This is definitely a record in terms of hatch success.  Kathy and her volunteers were tremendous and we look forward to 2013! 

On Tuesday August 10, the first clutches of hatchlings emerged at the High Bar Hatchery!

High Bar sets the Bar High!  Kathy and her amazing team, have rescued over 1000 eggs this year.  The Crimi Hatchery is keeping the eggs safe from predators.   Kathy needs help monitoring the emergence of the hatchlings starting July 23.  Please get involved and take a shift! 

                                           View of terrapin nests protected in one of two
                                              hatcheries on High Bar Harbor, LBI, NJ

Kathy and her High Bar and Barnegat Light Team are working very hard this season.  They've saved over 700 eggs as of June 30 2012.  See below for the latest nest that is being protected on site!  There are 15 sites protected outside of the hatchery!  Thanks to the Crimi's for the addition of a 2nd hatchery.

We will continue our project at the LBI Foundation and also at High Bar Harbor. The goal is to protect terrapin nests from negative human impacts.  Kathy aided by her dedicated team of volunteers already moved over 16 nests from heavily trafficked areas to the hatchery - just June 3, 2012! 

Kathy is locating a terrapin nest on LBI with the aid of Grace

A new hatchery was installed by some very dedicated volunteers (thanks to John Crimi for all of his hard work and generous support) working under the direction of Kathy Lacey.  This is part of the LBI/ High Bar Harbor Conservation Program.

Here are some goals on Long Beach Island...
1) Assess and log terrapin nests with little, to no, impact on the female terrapins
2) Possibly relocate nests in areas with high human traffice (walking and cars)
3) Conduct a mark and recapture study of nesting female terrapins (after they nest)
4) Maintain hatcheries at the LBI Foundation in Loveladies and High Bar Harbor
5) Promote awareness and stewardship of  terrapins and Barnegat Bay, NJ