Tagging the Terrapins of the Jersey Shore

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Tagging the Terrapins of the Jersey Shore

Earthwatch volunteers worked to protect New Jersey’s diamondback terrapins.

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Data from this project helped protect the terrapin and its threatened salt marsh habitat.

To know how healthy a species is, researchers need to know how many of its members die or survive in a given period.

In order to conserve habitats and species, biologists need to determine the causes of death of individuals from a population and accurately measure the rates of mortality and survivorship for all ages or size classes of the population. Survivorship and mortality data are critically important for determining whether the population is declining and heading toward extinction. By marking and recapturing individuals over time, Earthwatchers collected data on the causes of mortality and determined death rates of individual terrapins in Barnegat Bay. They also made accurate estimates of birth rates by monitoring nests and hatchling survivorship.

Research volunteer tracking terrapins in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey

Working from a motorized boat, Earthwatch volunteers helped to capture, tag, and track terrapins.

Data from this project were used to augment the protection of the terrapin as well as the protection of disappearing salt marsh habitat that is critical for the long-term survival of the diamondback and countless other estuarine community species.

About the research area

Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, United States, North America & Arctic

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Harold W.
Director of Barnegat Bay Research Program and Associate Professor, Drexel University

ABOUT Harold W. Avery

Earthwatch scientist Dr. Harold W. Avery has studied turtles and tortoises for more than 30 years, often inviting Earthwatch volunteers to join in his research.


Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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