On Aug. 2, the Terrapin Nesting Project posted an update to its Facebook page, facebook.com/TNP25, noting: “It has started! The babies have started to hatch.” August is the busiest hatch time for diamondback terrapin eggs, and volunteers regularly check nesting sites on Long Beach Island’s north end. If they spot a baby that’s hatched, they alert TNP founder/director Kathy Lacey or one of the group’s other members, who are certified to handle the turtles.
A number of volunteers are leaving LBI as summer winds down, but terrapin eggs will continue to hatch until around the beginning of October, so TNP is hoping to recruit some new sets of eyes. Individuals can sign up for a time slot at https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2398530/false#/invitation and check the hatchery at the end of Sunset Boulevard in High Bar Harbor, as well as Collier Road, a right-hand turn when heading back south down Sunset. The sandy terrapin nesting sites will be apparent, said Lacey.
Another nest location, at 24th Street and Bayview Avenue in Barnegat Light, also needs to be checked regularly.
If a baby is spotted at the hatchery, volunteers call Tracy at 908-391-8181 so she can open it up and get the terrapin. At Collier and Sunset, Lacey is the contact, at 215-495-2431. If neither women is available, call Jill Snyder at 215-480-3048.
TNP is hoping to have the sites checked often enough to ensure that any babies that hatch aren’t out in the sun for too long. “They’re less than a quarter in size,” said Lacey, “so you’re there just eagle-eyeing the area.”
As the Facebook page notes, “The babies are not like sea turtles that hatch all at once. Diamondback terrapins hatch any time of the day or night, and not all hatch at the same time.”
“They’re not well-disciplined children,” Lacey said with a laugh. But, she added, “they’re really stinkin’ cute.”
The Terrapin Nesting Project, which was established in 2011, now has official 501(c)(3) status. Soon the organization’s website – terrapinnestingproject.org – will feature a donate button to foster financial support for the nonprofit.
TNP members are highly trained, as terrapins are a focal species, as per N.J. Fish and Wildlife, which worries about species poaching. During the summer, the organization’s members supervise many volunteers. “They’re our eyes and ears,” said Lacey. “The community is amazing. … They’re our watchdogs.”
Visit the sign-up site to help monitor LBI’s terrapins, and follow TPN at Terrapin Nesting Project – HBH hatchery on Facebook, and @terrapinnestingproject on Instagram.