New Jersey Endangered Species: Diamondback Terrapin

New Jersey “Turtle Crossing” sign

The Diamondback Terrapin is an endangered species in New Jersey and its vulnerable status has given rise to what some may characterize as “weird road signs.”  You may have spotted Turtle Crossing signs on local roadways – especially those close to the wetlands.  That’s because these turtles frequently cross – or attempt to cross – local roads to reach sites where they can deposit eggs.

As reported on the Wetlands Institute website, ” …for well over a century, diamondback terrapins, the only species adapted to life in the brackish waters of coastal salt marshes, have been adversely affected by a variety of human activities.”  These activities include: being considered a gourmet delicacy for a time, coastal development that destroyed or limited traditional breeding sites on barrier islands, and drowning in the commercial crabbing industry’s crab traps.

Since 1989, several strategies have been implemented to address this situation including the recovery of eggs from road-killed terrapins that can be incubated, hatched, and released.  Road signs and educational programs seek to warn drivers about areas where terrapins cross the road so vehicles can stop to allow the creatures safe passage. Thankfully, there are many more efforts underway to support Terrapin Conservation.

At the Scarborough Inn, we participate in “Adopt a Terrapin” through the Wetlands Institute to help support these important programs and efforts. Look for our Diamondback Terrapin’s picture on the Inn’s bulletin board and consider visiting the Wetlands Institute in nearby Stone Harbor, NJ, during your Jersey Shore vacation – lots of hands – on fun and learning!

And while driving, please allow the turtles to cross the road…to get to the other (breeding) side!

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