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Conservation & Waterways News

Posted on: December 10, 2021

Department Dispatch: 2021 Diamondback Terrapin Monitoring

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The Town of Hempstead has grant funding to study the diamondback terrapin population in Hempstead Bay.  Town biologists believe this local estuary is an important habitat for diamondback terrapins, and this research will help gain a greater understanding of how many terrapins live in Hempstead Bay and identify important locations for nesting. 

This past summer was the Town’s most productive year for terrapin monitoring since the program started in 2018. In total, 128 terrapins were recorded this year. Four of these terrapins were juveniles, including three that were rescued from a storm drain. The rescued juveniles were relocated to a marsh area to live on land, until they are ready to enter the surrounding waterways, where they spend most of their lives. Of the turtles observed, 124 were females that came onto land to find sandy areas to lay their eggs. Males rarely emerge from the water and are difficult to observe.  

Most of the terrapin found by Town biologists this summer had not been recorded in previous years.  Each turtle is scanned for a PIT tag, similar to the type of tag your cat or dog pets may receive from the veterinarian. Any terrapins that were not tagged received a new PIT tag, for a total of 111 tagged terrapins this year, bringing the program total to just over 200 tagged terrapins. This year's high number of newly tagged terrapins will help grow our understanding of the terrapin population that reside within our bays, and also indicates that the tagged individuals are only a small part of the total population.

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