NCWRC seeks volunteers for 2024 Terrapin Tally – OBX Today

An image of a Diamondback Terrapin. (Courtesy NCWRC)

Diamondback Terrapins are small, aquatic turtles that live near coastal marshes, estuaries and tidal creeks. They are listed in North Carolina as a species of special concern and a Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

With the help from more than a thousand volunteer kayakers, this community science effort, led by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission and supported by several great partner organizations, has been conducting surveys each spring to learn more about this turtle. (Information on this year’s event can be viewed at 2024 Terrapin Tally.)

Volunteers are the key to success for this project, and we want to get the word out to kayakers and naturalists who may want to help. This is year 10 of the volunteer-supported initiative, and thus far we’ve obtained very beneficial information in our efforts to learn more about the species – and ultimately find methods to improve its population numbers. They include:

  • Documented relative density of terrapins in the southern portion of the coastal area
  • Began building a data set that will allow for population trend analyses in the future
  • Provided data to coastal research community (including UNCW) and sister agency (Division of Marine Fisheries) for inclusion in development of blue crab fishery/diamondback terrapin interaction management decision-making
  • Educated hundreds of community members about the species (thousands if you count media coverage) and engaged them in community science

We have ambitious goals about collecting data across the entire coast of North Carolina so we can better understand the population and condition of this species. It takes time and substantial effort to build a large enough data-set to answer some of the questions we are hoping to answer,” states Hope Sutton, Eastern Wildlife Diversity Supervisor, NCWRC.