Diamondback Terrapin Talk Caps Off Science Summer Series

CURIOUS CREATURE: John Wnek (ideal) shows off an adult feminine diamondback terrapin. (File Photograph by Ryan Morrill)
As part of Barnegat Bay Partnership’s “Ask a Barnegat Bay Scientist” cost-free webinar sequence, John Wnek, not long ago retired from his situation as supervisor of science and investigate at the Marine Academy of Know-how and Environmental Science in Manahawkin, took to WebEx very last 7 days to demonstrate various initiatives initiated to protect the area’s northern diamondback terrapin, and to focus on how people can assistance with terrapin conservation.
Wnek has shell out almost two many years studying community terrapin populations and, in his retirement, “continues to coordinate Undertaking Terrapin, directing exploration on the bay, and is also a study coordinator with Preserve Barnegat Bay’s University student Grant System,” the BBP mentioned.
Just after an introduction from Karen Walzer, community outreach coordinator for the BBP, Wnek provided qualifications facts on Malaclemys terrapin, a species that lives “exclusively in estuaries, that combine of refreshing and salt water.” He pointed out their “hydrodynamic shells,” streamlined for swimming their webbed toes and nails built for digging in sand or mud.
He also presented a nesting overview pointed out anthropogenic threats, such as crab pots, which can trap and drown terrapins if the pots are not outfitted with a bycatch reduction device, and vessel or vehicular hurt and walked listeners through the catching and processing of a terrapin, which entails weighing and measuring the turtle, and looking for predation or boat accidents. Then, volunteers insert a transponder tag. The terrapin’s shell is also notched so “we could tell it was a marked animal” even with no a scanner to read through the tag, and, additionally, as a evaluate to dissuade illegal harvesting.
Terrapin assignments at this time dot the larger Lengthy Beach Island spot, and contain Cedar Operate Dock Street in Stafford Township – exactly where far more than a thousand terrapins have been marked – as well as Seashore Haven West, Cedar Bonnet Island, North Sedge Island in the bay, Mill Creek Road and sites on LBI.
Wnek and his volunteers have partnered with the LBI Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, bordered by marshland in Loveladies, to develop a turtle nesting web site in purchase to discourage the terrapins from nesting in the stone and shell parking ton. The Terrapin Nesting Venture is also lively on the Island, and, recently, MATES done a crab lure restoration and examination around Extensive Beach Township’s new environmental subject station in Holgate.
Another initiative involves neighborhood fishermen subcontracted to retrieve derelict crab pots from the bay. Relevant to this, Wnek and his volunteers goal to teach crabbers, the two commerical and leisure, about bycatch reduction products (BRDs) – inserts that go into the funnels of crab traps – to continue to keep terrapins from entering a pot. (A single crab pot they pulled out of the bay, stated Wnek, experienced the remains of 17 terrapins in it.)
A counted 2,176 derelict fishing gear objects were pulled out of the bay from 2015 to 2019 as element of the all round crab pot retrieval job, which also includes studying the movement of the traps all through significant-electrical power and storm events, and studying “the result of BRDs on blue crab catch, and how effective they were in reducing bycatch,” Wnek said.
To help shield terrapins whilst crabbing, Wnek asks men and women to outfit crab pots with a good float and line, to use BRDs and to check crab pots every day. He also pointed to WeCrabNJ.org and occasional Jacques Cousteau Nationwide Estuary Investigation Reserve workshops as good sources of additional facts.
And, he observed, “we have to have more turtle gardens in certain areas,” as “the suitable site is vital for usefulness and survival of hatchlings.”
Soon to relaunch, Wnek also outlined, is a method termed “The Terrapin Sighting Task,” carried out in conjunction with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and Preserve Barnegat Bay.
And finally, volunteers for dune grass planting, nest checking, highway sign making and more are usually welcome. Stop by projectterrapin.org to find out additional.
Other webinars in the “Ask a Barnegat Bay Scientist” sequence involve: “Don’t Harass the Seagrass!,” “Tuckerton Oyster Reef” and “Fisheries in Barnegat Bay: Overview of the Biology, Evaluation, and Administration.” Watch the recordings at barnegatbaypartnership.org.  —J.K.-H.

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