TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — Today marks World Turtle Day and The Tybee Island Marine Science Center held an informative presentation to help the community learn more about these creatures.
The Diamondback Terrapin, a cousin of the beloved Sea Turtle is a small creature that lives in the salt marshes on the island. This happens to be their peak nesting season and experts say because they are coming to higher ground, their mortality rate is at an all-time high, but you can help save them.
If you’re driving on Highway 80 into Tybee Island, you’ve probably seen a turtle crossing sign or two. Well, these signs are for the Diamondback Terrapin, a cousin of the beloved sea turtle.
Tuesday, The Marine Science Center on Tybee celebrated World Turtle Day with an interactive presentation as part of their coastal wave series to help the community learn more about them.
Terrapins are smaller in size compared to sea turtles and they live in salt marshes. Their nesting season is from April to July and they typically frequent our roads on the islands, but experts like Chantal Audran, executive director of the Science Marine Center say you need to watch out for them.
“They have eggs inside of them, they’re moving to high ground just like the sea turtles coming out of the water and unfortunately the road is where they’re ending up and so we have two hundred, two hundred and fifty hit females every season and they’re nesting season is only two months long so, it’s a large amount of death in a very short amount of time,” Audran said.
For the Terrapins that do not survive, specifically the girls, the science center uses their eggs and incubates them, and puts the hatchlings on display. Dr. Kathryn Craven, Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University has this advice for anyone that may come across this creature, so we can help save them.
Dr. Craven said, “Well, if you see one either on the road or in your crab pot, help them if you can, if you can do it safely if you can get them out of your crab pot by putting them back into the water, these are animals that need to be wet, but they also need to breathe air. If you see it on the road, if it’s safe, we need to talk about human safety first, but if you can move it in the direction of where it’s going, try to move it. If you see that it’s in distress, try to call for help.”
The State of Georgia does not allow anyone to keep or handle these animals because they are a protected species.