Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) are a species of turtles that reside exclusively in estuaries, areas where freshwater and salt water mix. In New Jersey, terrapin populations are thought to be in decline.
Island Beach State Park (IBSP) is home to terrapins where studies have been conducted since 2002 by Project Terrapin to determine population estimates and nesting aspects of this species. Terrapin are captured, marked, and released back to the marsh system where caught, which gives researchers a better indication on the population size and terrapin health. It is estimated that the southern region of Island Beach State Park, within the Marine Conservation Zone, may be habitat for over 2000 terrapins.
On land areas within IBSP, female terrapins can lay an average of 12 to 13 eggs per clutch (group of eggs) and may come back to nest up to three times during the nesting season that runs from May through July. There are many predators that feed on eggs in terrapin including: crows, fox, raccoons, and mink. Eggs incubate for at least 60 days, where the temperature of the nest determines the gender (warmer nests produce females).
We are constructing a hatchery at the Island Beach State Park Nature Center to protect eggs from nests that are predated.
Please keep an eye out for nesting female terrapins crossing the roadway on the Park during the summer months (June - late-July).
Terrapins are an important indicator species of the health of a marsh system and through research, Project Terrapin will continue to learn more about the IBSP terrapin population, especially impacts caused by storms such as extra tropical cyclone Sandy and seasonal Nor'easters. Natural areas, like those found at IBSP, are important for the survival of this species.
lease contact us at
and/or visit the Park's Nature Center for more information about terrapins.