Our Ospreys have names!  We put it to vote and our Facebook fans chose Marshal and Lily.  Egg #1 came 36 days ago so we expect it to hatch any day now!

2016_5-9_Mom's-Head-Caught_4This morning, the female osprey on the nest became entangled in a plastic bag around her neck. We monitored the situation closely and consulted biologists with the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife and Conserve Wildlife Foundation about possible responses. A benefit of the nest camera is that we were aware of the problem and able to monitor it. Fortunately, after several hours, the female left the nest while the male incubated, and was able to free herself without intervention. She is back to incubating her eggs.

Marine debris is a serious issue with consequences for wildlife. Please do your part and make sure that you are not responsible for any loss of debris to the your surroundings and if you see any, please recover it and dispose of it properly.

The good news is – we now have 3 eggs!

2016_5-9_Mom's-Head-Caught_mom-took-off-with-bagTwo eggs in the nest!

Dear Terrapin Conservation Supporters,

Terrapin - IMG_4663More good news! New Jersey’s Senate Environment and Energy Committee and Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources committees recently met to consider  Bill S-1625 and A-2949 to classify diamondback terrapins a as non-game indigenous species. The bill passed both committees and will move forward to a full vote. The Wetlands Institute is supportive of this bill that will provide terrapins greater protection and end the harvest in New Jersey.

If you would like to voice support for the bill, you can find contact information for your state representatives at the link below.


2013-12__121_SanderlingMigratory shorebirds are attracted to barrier island beaches for resting and foraging along their many-thousand mile long annual journey. Sanderlings are the shorebirds commonly seen running in and out with the waves, quickly grabbing food from the sand with their bills. One such individual we spotted foraging on Stone Harbor Point last fall carried around its leg a band with a unique code. By submitting the code, we learned that this sanderling was the oldest sanderling ever found- at least 13.5 years old! This individual, like millions of others, depends on opportunities to rest and eat undisturbed at critical habitats provided by our barrier island beaches year after year.

Want to help? Avoid disturbing birds on the beach and follow posted signage throughout the year.

2015-10_530In 2014, The Wetlands Institute, Wetland Link International, and Wetlands International Russia teamed up to generate a beneficial international dialogue between wetland centers in the US and Russia. This project, Russia-USA Wetland Center Exchange Program: Linking People and Wetlands, brought staff from wetland centers in the US and Russia together to share best practices and approaches in environmental education, support the development of effective outreach and education activities, and directly link peers to foster greater cultural understanding.

Through a series of full immersion exchange visits throughout 2015, six wetland centers equally divided between the US and Russia were able to travel abroad to visit their partner centers and spend several days exploring commonalities and differences between the two centers. This past October, The Wetlands Institute (TWI) hosted their project partners Dmitry Belyaev and Alexander Kochergin from Smolensk Lakeland National Park. For five days, Dmitry and Alexander explored South Jersey ecosystems, while visiting local environmental education organizations and learning from TWI community partners.

IMG_4036The culmination of the project was a 3-day international conference held at The Wetlands Institute. The conference brought all wetland centers together to explore lessons learned, discuss best practice approaches for using social media, data sharing and outreach to further environmental education, and produce a bilingual best practices manual for use in wetland centers. The highlight of the conference was a public open house where project partners shared their experiences and lessons learned. To view, the open house presentation, please visit the project website at:

by Brian Williamson

Terrapin-posingIf you spend time at the shore, you probably are familiar with diamondback terrapins. They are our local saltmarsh turtle; unique in that they are the only reptiles that thrive in this habitat. They are most often seen when the females come out of the marshes to nest from May until July. You also may have seen their heads as you kayak through local creeks. Perhaps you have seen the quarter-sized hatchlings, which emerge from their nests in the fall and spring.

Yet terrapins are in trouble throughout their range. They face the effects of habitat loss due to human development and climate change. Although males rarely leave the water, nesting females often must cross roads to nest and hundreds are killed each summer. Untold numbers are caught as bycatch in crab traps and drown each year. Nest and hatchling predators, such as raccoons and skunks, are now more abundant due to the feast our garbage provides. This overabundance of predators reduces the number of hatchlings that survive to maturity. All of these threats combine to make the future of terrapins uncertain.

The Wetlands Institute has worked diligently for over 25 years to make sure terrapins remain a vital part of our local coastal ecosystem. Started by Dr. Roger Wood in conjunction with Stockton University, our terrapin research and conservation program works to increase our understanding of terrapins and develop ways to protect them from the threats they face.

In 1991 we began patrols of local roadways to document impacts of vehicles on terrapin populations. Each year, from May through July, we patrol 38 miles of roads from Stone Harbor to Sea Isle City. Data collected on patrols have revealed the scale of the threat roads pose to terrapins – nearly 500 female terrapins are killed each year on these roads.

IMG_1519While this is a sobering statistic, our patrols allow us to reduce impacts from roads. Many terrapins killed on roads still hold viable eggs. We retrieve these eggs and incubate them in our lab. Incubation temperature determines sex for terrapins; therefore, we adjust incubator temperatures to produce female hatchlings and help offset the loss of their deceased mothers. With the help of Stockton University and trained school teachers, we raise these hatchlings for one year, keeping them active and fed year-round. This process, called headstarting, allows terrapins to reach a size up to three times that of a wild turtle the same age, and leaves them less vulnerable to predators. Over the years, we have released 2,250 headstarted terrapins to local marshes. Each year we also treat injuries and save hundreds of terrapins crossing roads, and work with partners to limit the number of terrapins crossing roads.

Since 1997 we have been conducting a long-term population study of terrapins in our local marshes. Each year, we capture terrapins and mark them with uniquely coded microchips that let us identify individuals. To date, we have marked nearly 5,000 terrapins. By marking, releasing, and recapturing turtles over many years, we can derive population size, survival rates, growth, movements, and individual nesting habitat preferences to help us better understand and protect them.

We also protect terrapin nests with predator exclosures, distribute Bycatch Reduction Devices to keep terrapins out of crab pots, work with volunteers to rescue terrapin hatchlings from storm drains, mentor interns each summer who help conduct research projects on terrapins, and engage the public in terrapin conservation. Over the past 25 years The Wetlands Institute has become a leader in diamondback terrapin research and conservation. We remain committed to monitoring and protecting terrapin populations near and far, and look forward to continuing our legacy of terrapin conservation into the future.

web_turtle-fest-2Stone Harbor, NJ – On Saturday, March 26th, The Wetlands Institute will be hosting its 6th Annual Turtle Fest from 9:00am to 3:00pm. This fun-packed day will kick-off with a pancake breakfast with scheduled seatings at 9:00am, 10:00am, 10:45am, and 11:30am (reservations recommended).

Children can enjoy a different twist on the traditional egg hunt with a terrapin-themed egg hunt. They can also create arts and crafts, help a naturalist search for turtle hatchlings along the Salt Marsh Trail, and stop by the aquarium to watch the animals have breakfast too!

Reservations are recommended for breakfast seatings and can be submitted using the form at wetlandsinstitute.org/events/turtle-fest or by calling 609-368-1211. Gluten-free pancakes are available upon request.

The Wetlands Institute has hosted this event for the past 6 years in an effort to increase awareness for the human-related struggles the diamondback terrapin faces and to promote conservation of the species. To find out more about The Wetlands Institute’s terrapin conservation programs and how you can help please visit wetlandsinstitute.org/conservation.




About The Wetlands Institute:

The Wetlands Institute is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting appreciation, understanding and stewardship of wetlands and coastal ecosystems through our programs in research, conservation and education. We inspire visitors of all ages to appreciate and steward wetlands and coastal ecosystems by teaching them the importance of those systems and how they relate to their own lives. Visit our website at wetlandsinstitute.org to find out more about our programs and mission.



The Wetlands Institute, located in Stone Harbor, NJ, is seeking qualified applicants for several seasonal positions to protect beach-nesting birds. Primary responsibilities include interacting in a positive and educational way with the public to prevent disturbance and at times directly intervening to stop a disturbance, documenting and reporting disturbance, and acting as an overall ambassador for the conservation of beach-nesting birds. Training will be provided.

This is a temporary, part-time, hourly position (approx. 30-35 hrs/week) that will include regular early morning, weekend, and holiday hours. The position will require sitting for several hours, or walking long distances over sandy beach, and tolerating exposure to variable and sometimes adverse weather and environmental conditions (wind, rain, heat, biting insects). Applicants should have a positive attitude, an outgoing personality, and a willingness to learn about conservation of coastal birds. Applicants should also have experience or interest in learning how to follow protocols, collect careful data, and calmly defuse conflict. Applicants should be able to work well alone or in small groups.
The duration of the position is approximately 14 weeks (Memorial Day-Labor Day). Candidates should be available for the duration of the position. Salary is $8.38/hr. Housing is not provided. A valid driver’s license and personal transportation is required. Reimbursement for project-related travel may be provided.

Please send 1) cover letter detailing interest, qualifications, and availability 2) CV, and 3) names and contact information for 3 professional references to Allison Anholt, conservation AT wetlandsinstitute.org. Please include “Beach Steward” in the subject line. Application deadline is February 12, 2016.

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What’s Happening?

What’s Happening?

There is always something exciting happening at The Wetlands Institute. Our Special Events Calendar lists the important details, so please take a look and join us for an adventure in exploration and discovery.
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Summer Nature Program

Summer Nature Program

Spend a week discovering the New Jersey Shore in a fun and hands-on way! Engage in science experimentation and exploration, play games, go on field trips, explore the beach, create arts and crafts, and much more! Programs are filling fast so don’t delay – register today!

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Why Your Support Matters

Why Your Support Matters

We are proud to present this amazing four minute video of the wonders of the marsh and the crucial work being done by The Wetlands Institute. Watch now

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