Virginia DWR trains volunteers to spot and count diamondback terrapins for research. Photo: Jason Crawley

VIDEO: VA Paddlers Count Terrapins in “Diamondback Dash”

If you are looking for an excuse to putter around quiet Virginia waterways in your kayak or other paddlecraft, you’re in luck.

Virginia’s Diamondback Dash is underway for 2024. This program, coordinated by the Division of Wildlife Resources, is gathering data to determine the health of Virginia’s diamondback terrapin population.

Volunteer paddlers cover designated routes throughout the state in an effort to count diamondback terrapins. Counts take place three times each year.

Chesapeake Bay Magazine contributor and Diamondback Dash volunteer Kendall Osborne documented his recent paddle count and shows us just how tricky the terrapins are to spot in the water:

As the Diamondback Dash program continues in future years, scientists will be able to compare data and determine if the population is stable, increasing, or declining.

Diamondback terrapins are unique, as they are the only turtle in the state that inhabits brackish and salt water. They can be tough to see from the low vantage of a kayak, so having experience on the water certainly helps.

Volunteers have to complete training in order to participate. If you want to give it a try, or to learn more, check out