By Grace Scalzo
One of the most fascinating creatures native to Long Island is the Diamondback Terrapin. They are perfectly adapted to life in our salt marshes and estuaries as they survive in both salt and brackish waters.
Their only land-based activity is nesting, where they prefer sandy beaches.
As you can see on this map, Terrapins can be found on both the North and South Shores of Long Island.
Dr. Russell Burke of Hofstra University is a leading expert on Diamondback Terrapins and has studied the population at Jamaica Bay for the last 18 years. Unfortunately they have suffered a 60 percent decline over that time. Like much of our wildlife, they have suffered from habitat loss, predation, drowning in crab traps, vehicle strikes and pollution.
As incredible as it may seem, New York State has an open season on hunting Diamondback Terrapins. From August to April, a $10 permit allows legal “harvesting”. They are sold in specialty markets and overseas as food, and used in the pet trade.
Here is your chance to help them. New York State’s DEC wants to close the season on diamondback terrapin hunting and add the species to the list of native turtles with no open season. They have invited informal feedback on this issue and are accepting comments until December 23, 2016. All that is asked of you is that you enjoy the pictures and “factoids” provided by Dr. Russ Burke below, and then send the DEC a short email supporting the ban on harvesting, You can also send them a letter at NYSDEC, Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754. Do note that the comment period ends on December 23, 2016 so please act today.
It takes less than three minutes of your time to offer these creatures one less threat to their lives with your support on the hunting ban.
Please scroll through the photos below and check out the video by Ted Scalzo and Terrapin Factoids from Dr. Russel Burke on page 3.