A project to enhance diamondback terrapin nesting habitat by The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and MATES Project Terrapin, supported by a grant from the Barnegat Bay Partnership  

what are

turtle gardens?

why are they important?

how are they made?

Turtle Gardens are patches of sandy soil above the high water line that provide nesting habitat for diamondback terrapins and other nesters

  • Nesting habitat is being lost to shoreline development, erosion, and flooding

  • Turtle Gardens provide nesting habitat for terrapins that would otherwise cross roadways and put themselves in danger to find suitable habitat to nest

  • Turtle Gardens give terrapins a place to nest without risking their safety.

  • A suitable area for a Turtle Garden is based on terrapin access used by terrapins to seek nesting areas 

  • A Turtle Garden is made of a mixture of sands and soils of different particle sizes to best imitate natural conditions of a terrapins nesting habitat.

  • Sand is spread around the area above the high water line with at least two feet (60 cm) of elevation to give terrapins plenty of space to dig down without being below the high water line.

example of the

turtle garden process

Turtle Garden installed at the Long Beach Island Foundation of Arts & Sciences (LBIF) in Lovieladies, NJ during spring 2015.

before

after

addressing the problem

Terrapins at LBIF were accessing the parking lot to nest and were sometimes hit by cars

THe process

We first survey the location and decide on the best place to put the Turtle Garden. In this case, we decided the place place was next to the path the terrapins used to access nesting areas across the parking lot and/or roadway. We then cleared the vegetation, but we leave enough to provide some shade and shelter for emerging hatchlings. 

2​

  • The sand mixture is delivered and then evenly spread throughout the area creating a two foot (60 cm) elevation at the center of the Garden.

  • All sides of the Turtle Gaden are given a gentle slope to provide the nesting terrapins easy access to the site. 

3

At this particular Turtle Garden, a small fence was installed just prior to the hatchling emerging to keep the terrapin hatchlings from wandering into the parking lot after emergence. Hatchlings did have access to the path. 

4

At this particular Turtle Garden, a small fence was installed just prior to the hatchling emerging to keep the terrapin hatchlings from wandering into the parking lot after emergence. Hatchlings did have access to the path. 

THe results

The first year was a success with most of the eggs hatching from five nests in the Turtle Garden!

 

  • All of the eggs hatched in two of five nests (8 and 10 eggs).

  • Two nests hatched all but one of their eggs (10 of 11 eggs and 3 of 4 eggs).

  • Only one nest had less than 50% hatching.

All photos were provided by John Wnek or Stephanie Egger

For more information

© 2023 by Nature Org. Proudly created with Wix.com

Follow us on social

@projectterrapin