Rhode Island Diamondback Terrapin Project

terrapin y ppatonRINHS helps research and conserve one of the state’s most interesting animals, the diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin). Terrapins are terrific turtles that, like true Rhode Islanders, are adapted to life on the edge of the sea, specifically in coves, bays, salt marshes, dunes, and other coastal features. Once hunted for meat and continuously under pressure from habitat loss, Rhode Island’s terrapins have been in a precarious state for many years. Lately they are showing up in new places but sea-level rise and other effects of climate change could mean more changes are coming, and not necessarily for the good. What’s up with our charismatic neighbors in the marshes? We’ll post reports, photos, and other information about diamondback terrapins and the work of researchers and conservationists as it develops.

Special recognition must be made here of the contributions of Charlotte Sornborger, who for decades has worked to research the terrapin population in upper Narragansett Bay, to save their nesting habitat, and to educate the public about his rarely seen and little known turtle. In 2014, Sornborger’s work earned her the Rhode Island Distinguished Naturalist Award.

Diamondback Terrapin ID Card: download and print to help ID terrapins and report data to the researchers PDF:135KB

Hatchlings come out in the late summer and fall and are smaller than Oreo cookies

Hatchlings come out in the late summer and fall and are smaller than Oreo cookies

Contributors to the Rhode Island Diamondback Terrapin Project include:
Malia Schwartz RINHS/URI-CELS
Suzanne Paton USFWS
Louis Perrotti Roger Williams Park Zoo
Peter Paton URI-CELS
Nancy Karraker URI-CELS
Thomas Husband URI-CELS
Meghan Beatty URI Coastal Fellow
Charlotte Sornborger BCLT
Steve Reinert BCLT
Christopher Raithel RIDEM
James Turek NOAA Restoration Center
Cynthia Maynard USFWS
Erin King USFWS
Kevin Rogers USFWS
Emma Haskett Volunteer
Alyssa Zhang Volunteer
Laura Craver Volunteer
Brittany Dobrzynski Volunteer/URI
Wendy Forber-Pratt Volunteer/URI

Read the report of the 2012-13 assessment of diamondback terrapins along our southern coast.
RIDTP_Report_2013-Web (PDF:6.7 MB)