I’ve never seen so many homemade animal crossing signs as I did at the Jersey Shore this weekend. In West Creek, around the Edwin B. Forstyth National Wildlife Refuge everyone was interested in protecting the diamondback terrapin turtles. During the summer the females leave the marshes to dig nests everywhere.
My friend Jeff said a turtle was laying eggs across his driveway and shell-covered yard just last week. There were turtle nest holes about every 10 feet in all directions. Some were cleared out and empty–either a predator had cleaned them out or the turtle had a false start nest. There were also plenty of nests with the once-soft shells now desiccated.
These are the world’s only turtles that live in brackish–part salty, part fresh–water. They’ve lost a lot of habitat and stand to lose more with global warming, Defenders of Wildlife says.
According to this guy, who breeds and sells the terrapins, there are many subspecies, but the one on the east coast has the most variety of looks. He says that’s because the area used to have a ton of turtle farms, which caught animals down south to make into turtle soup. When the turtle soup fad passed, they released the turtles, which bred with the wild ones.
Where to See Turtles and Tortoises (the difference is, turtles live in the sea, tortoises on land)