Eight tiny new turtles now call the National Marine Life Center their temporary home. These diamondback terrapin youngsters hatched too late in the season to survive the cold winter. Weighing a mere 4.1 grams (0.14 ounces), the smallest hatchling is only 25.4 mm (~ 1 inch) in length.
Diamondback terrapins live in salt marshes, mud flats, estuaries, and other nearshore habitats. For years, people harvested them for food, although this is no longer legal in Massachusetts. Currently listed as “threatened”, they are impacted by habitat loss both of coastline and upland nesting habitat. They are also frequently hit by vehicles as they cross roads to reach their nesting areas. Additionally, they can suffer from pollution, environmental toxins, and predation from natural and domesticated predators.
Researchers Don “the Turtle Guy” Lewis and Sue Nourse of Cape Cod Consultants study the turtles in the wild and, working with state officials, bring into temporary captivity those hatchlings unlikely to survive the winter on their own. Veterinarian Michael Ryer, DVM, MS examines the hatchlings and places them in temporary homes. The National Marine Life Center is pleased to partner with these individuals in saving diamondback terrapins and returning them to the wild!