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Friday, May 20, 2011

Mid Afternoon Turtle Stranding

Not all turtles found stranded on NMB are sea turtles.  Early afternoon turtle rescue involved a Diamond Back Terrapin Hatchling found on the beach around 27th Ave. S.  This hatchling was less than 2 inches long.  Sadly, it was not alive.  Since Diamond Back Terrapins are found in the brackish water of the Marsh and no Marshes are around this section of the beach, the questions was, "How did it get there?"  No one knows, maybe a bird picked it up.....

This is a child's size 1-2 shoe

The name of these reptiles comes from the fact that they have a diamond pattern on their shells. They are native to the coastal swamps of the eastern and southern United States.
When it comes to growth these terrapins can grow up to become quite large. - males grow to around five inches whereas females grow to around seven and a half inches. 
Sadly, these turtles were, at one point, almost hunted to extinction because they were seen as a delicious culinary delicacy. This led to the Diamondback Terrapin becoming a threatened species, endangered species, or a species of concern in many of the states in the USA.
The diet of these terrapins consists of fiddler crabs, mollusks, and small fish as well as some plant matter. They are aquatic creatures but they do like to bask in the sun during the warmer temperatures. During the colder winter months they tend to hibernate by burying themselves in the mud.
These turtles are said to be the only ones in the world that live in what is known as brackish water, which is water that is saline but is not as salty as seawater. 
Threats that these beautiful creatures face includes being run over by vehicles as they cross the road to lay eggs, animals such as raccoons and skunks that eat turtle eggs, destruction of their coastal marshy habitats, drowning in crab traps and boat propellers. 
These terrapins have the honour of being the state reptile of Maryland and the official mascot of the University of Maryland. The good news is that after being almost wiped out by hunters that were intent on consuming these terrapins they are making a comeback in many parts of the United States, although it still has some way to go in terms of complete recovery of numbers in many parts of the country

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