Volunteers Move Dozens of Turtles out of Annapolis Shopping Center Pond

An all-volunteer turtle conservation group is attempting to catch and relocate hundreds of turtles from a shopping center pond.

The Terrapin Institute measures collected turtles

The Terrapin Institute measures collected turtles

The pond, located at Annapolis Harbour Center, is about to undergo improvements, making it deeper and decreasing storm runoff pollution. But those positive improvements will bring in heavy construction equipment, which could threaten the hundreds of turtles that live there.

That's because turtles, by nature, hunker down in the mud, instead of fleeing to a safer location.

That's where the Terrapin Institute comes in. When the volunteer group heard about the project back in March, they came up with a plan to temporarily move the turtles to another pond, then move them back once construction is finished.

Co-director Jeff Popp tells me there are four different turtle species living in the pond. He estimates there are hundreds of turtles to be moved.

With the help of volunteers from the South River Federation, the organization has been steadily trapping and relocating turtles. So far they have marked and relocated 26 of them.

Volunteers help the Terrapin Institute identify collected turtles

Volunteers help the Terrapin Institute identify collected turtles

Marking each turtle they collect will provide an opportunity to track those turtles in the future. Popp hopes to study how their temporary move affects them in the future: will they successfully settle back into their habitat and reproduce?

Popp praises Anne Arundel County, the Maryland State Highway Administration, and Lerner Corporation, who owns the shopping center, for supporting the effort to save these turtles.

Megan Viviano