Rare Diamondback Terrapin Nest Found on Maryland's Western Shore

Thanks to some conscientious beachgoers, more than a dozen diamondback terrapin eggs have a fighting chance of survival.

Facebook/The Terrapin Instititute

Facebook/The Terrapin Instititute

A man walking his dog stumbled upon the terrapin laying her eggs in the sand on a community beach in Hillsmere on the South River.

After he posted photos on Facebook, Jeff Popp and the volunteer-run Terrapin Institute got involved.

"It's exciting because terrapin nests in Annapolis are rare," he said.

But because the nesting spot the terrapin chose is a community dog beach and kayak launch, Popp collected the eggs for artificial incubation to keep them safe.

Terrapin eggs and hatchlings are also preyed upon by a wide variety of animals including crabs, crows, gulls, herons, rats, muskrats, foxes, raccoons, skunks and mink, according to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. 

terrapin nest collecting.jpg

In all, there were 16 eggs rescued from the nest, all fertilized.

Nests are often found on Maryland's Eastern Shore, but far less common on the Western Shore, because so much more of the shoreline is developed and occupied by people.

The terrapin nest is a good sign for water quality in the area—the terrapin wouldn't be there if it didn't have food or habitat.

Popp wants to emphasize: it is illegal for the public to disturb turtle nests, and should be left to the professionals. He urges anyone who finds a nest to call the Terrapin Institute, which has a permit to transport turtles.

The diamondback terrapin is Maryland's state turtle.



Bay Bulletin