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Field Research,

Conservation, & Education  

Project Terrapin has been conducting a mark-recapture study since 2002 at N. Sedge Island and Island Beach State Park.  We've also conducted research on the mainland side of Barnegat Bay along the Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge System from Barnegat south into Eagleswood Township.   Our other initiatives include promoting the use of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs), road signs, a hatchling head-start program, nest site enhancement, citizens monitoring programs,  and educating thousands of school students and the general public each year. 

Terrapin sighting, mark, & recapture

Beginning in 2002, we've marked over 1400 terrapin between N. Sedge Island and Island Beach State Park.  We've also worked on terrapin research at the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge since 2006 in conjunction with Dr. Harold W. Avery where we've marked thousands of individual terrapins. At Sedge, we've marked over 400 nesting female terrapins and measured thousand of eggs and hatchlings.  At Cedar Run Dock Road, we've marked close to 1500 terrapins. We work with the Terrapin Nesting Project in Holgate, NJ and the Clam Cove Reserve. We maintain the most extensive data base on terrapins throughout Barnegat Bay, New Jersey.  Our efforts shifted in 2013 to post-Sandy studies and assessing terrapin populations and habitats at Barnegat Bay.  We've supported over a dozen undergraduate theses, and four graduate theses to date with a few more planned! 

Ongoing Goals for 2022 include:

  • Work with NJ Fish and Wildlife, Island Beach State Park, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, The Leatherback Trust and "Bayley" - to get her back into the wild!  

  • Continued Mark and Recapture research at all study sites and assessing reproductive output of female nesting terrapins (thanks to Michele Budd, Karen Byrne, Mae Skrba and Sedge Interns, and Courtney Parks from St. Joseph's University, PA).. 

  • Mark and Recapture of terrapins at Cedar Run Dock Road continued (~1500 marked terrapins) and Mill Creek in Stafford Township (Joe and Fran Kosa). 

  • Continue with our Terrapin Sighting Project.  Please report a terrapin sighting and become a citizen scientist!

  • Continued collaboration with the Terrapin Nesting Project and Long Beach Township Marine Field Station in Holgate.  Also, the Mordecai Island Land Trust! 

  • Developed a new hatchery concept in response to Sea Level Rise and declining terrapin nesting habitats! 



& crab pots

We teamed up to remove derelict fishing gear including abandoned (ghost) crab pots from Barnegat Bay in conjunction with The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Stockton University, local crabbers,  and Monmouth University (original grant), all supported through a NOAA Marine Debris Removal Grant . We've removed over 2100 crab pots collectively through 2019.  We still need to do more as there are 1000's of derelict crab pots in Barnegat Bay and counting! 


As part of our bycatch reduction device (BRD) campaign, we want to distribute more "free" BRD bundles.  These devices are inserted into the funnel of commercial-style crab pots that are known to capture terrapins and other non-crab species.  If not pulled out of the water within hours, terrapins are likely to drown in submerged pots.  New Jersey has a "loose" regulation for the use of BRDs, but we are providing these devices for free.  We've distributed over 30,000 BRDs to date.  We thank Exelon Energy, SUEZ, Jenkinson's Aquarium, and the American Sportsman Crab Trap company for their generous support of our BRD initiative (cost per BRD is now about $1.00 per BRD!). 


Please see more information about our BRD Program on our BRD Page.

road signs

& habitats

We are enhancing terrapin nesting areas so that the turtles do not have to cross roadways and other barriers that may cause injury or mortality.  By creating and/or enhancing nesting areas, we can reduce road interactions that terrapins would normally encounter.  We have a "road patrol" plan in some critical nesting areas.  In a project with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, funded by the Barnegat Bay Partnership, we are creating "Turtle Gardens".   In 2015, we establihsed a "Turtle Garden" project at the Long Beach Island Foundation, which was successful in its first year.  The Turtle Gardens concept originated in Massachusetts and Maryland.  We are looking for more candidate locations for our Turtle Garden projects. Please contact us. 


Working with towns and public access areas, we are supporting the installation of road signs in key terrapin (and turtle) nesting areas.  Female terrapins cross high areas where there tends to be roads or causeways.   By working with towns and public properties, we've provided signs that are valuable to warn motorists of the potential for turtle crossings.  In New Jersey, terrapin nesting season is from May through late July.  We've formed a partnership with Stafford Township focusing on terrapin conservation starting in 2021 and continue with this partnership. 


Partners in research & conservation

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