Earthwatch volunteers joined Dr. Harold Avery to investigate the challenges facing the diamondback terrapin, an iconic species of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
The diamondback terrapin is a survivor of the many changes that have occurred since colonial times in coastal estuaries along the east coast of the United States. Dr. Avery, his students, and Earthwatch volunteers worked together to collect critical information to help support the long-term survival of the terrapin in the Barnegat Bay Estuary in New Jersey.
The Barnegat Bay Estuary, a marine conservation zone, has some of the last salt marsh ecosystems left in the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The estuary is located near one of the fastest-developing areas of the United States (Ocean County, New Jersey), as well as one of the most undeveloped and unique terrestrial ecosystems in the eastern United States (the New Jersey Pine Barrens).
How have dredging and development of land along estuarine margins affected the diamondback terrapin? Are current conservation and management practices sufficient to protect the terrapin and its habitat? Earthwatch research findings about terrapins and other species inhabiting the Barnegat Bay Estuary were applied to the management of other estuarine ecosystems in North America and the world.