Terrapins Unlocking the Mysteries of the Marsh

We're excited to be entering our second season working with The Wetland's Institute (TWI), a nonprofit conservation and education organization in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. TWI is using CTT PowerTags and special ULR GPS transmitters to study juvenile and adult Diamondback Terrapins in the South Jersey marshes.

Diamondback Terrapins ready for release at The Wetlands Institute, Stone Harbor, NJ

Dr Lisa Ferguson (left) Director of Research and Conservation at The Wetlands Institute, discusses how the Terrapin release will take place.

Technology is Key

While the juvenile terrapins carry small PowerTags that emit digitally coded radio signals every 15 seconds, the adults have slightly larger solar-powered Ultra Long Range (ULR) GPS transmitters that can sense when they are out of the water, collect a GPS fix, and send it over the 900MHz radio frequency to the same station that collects the radio signals from the juveniles. These adult tags can transmit data from over 2 miles away! Because the juveniles are too small to carry a GPS, TWI has deployed a CTT Node grid in the marshes around their center, which can localize the signal of each PowerTag to generate a map of the movements of juvenile terrapins as well. Together these technologies are helping TWI better understand the needs and threats to Diamondback Terrapins during a time in their life when they are both inaccessible for monitoring, and potentially vulnerable.

Some 'teenagers' waiting to be released. These are untagged, as are the vast majority of the terrapins that are released by TWI each season. Notice the variability in head markings; strikingly beautiful, aren't they!?

Off She Goes!

We know she's a she because the females are the ones who come ashore to lay eggs, and who are most likely to end up in harms way. This adult female terrapin has been outfitted with a ULR GPS receiver, and if all goes as planned, she'll be telling us all about her travels for years to come! Good luck beautiful girl!

Learn more about PowerTags and Life Tags

Learn more about The Wetlands Institute