Avalon Blvd. Terrapin "Fencing"

 (Avalon, NJ)—The Avalon Department of Public Works has installed brand new tubing along Avalon Boulevard to provide greater protection and safety for adult female diamondback terrapin turtles. The new tubing will prevent the turtles from a dangerous crossing across the boulevard during their nesting season.

“This new system to protect the terrapins comes with the consent and the advice of the Wetlands Institute in Middle Township”, said Avalon Director of Public Works Bill Macomber. “This new tube system lasts longer, looks better, and conserves the terrapins along Avalon Boulevard”.

Scientists who work at the Wetlands Institute conducted a comprehensive research program into what type of system works most effectively for the protection of the terrapins. The institute has created its own webpage, https://wetlandsinstitute.org/research/a-guide-for-building-terrapin-barriers-and-fences to discuss the various options available to shore communities for this conservation effort. Dr. John Cuthbert, an Avalon resident; Dan McLaughlin, the Research and Conservation Coordinator for the institute; and Dr. Roger Wood, Research Director at the institute, recommended the new tubing system for the boulevard following a test project in 2010 at the site of the Avalon greenhouse on 39th Street. The tubing was placed on that site with turtles as an experiment.

According to the institute, every nesting season (late May through July), hundreds of adult diamondback terrapins are killed on roads crossing or adjacent to salt marshes in southern New Jersey. The institute has learned through seven years of research that different types of fencing installed along these roadways significantly reduce the number of terrapin deaths resulting from passing vehicles.

Avalon is using black corrugated plastic drainage pipe as a barrier for the terrapins. Research at the institute showed that even the largest terrapins were unable to scale and climb over the drainage pipe. The system was tested in Margate in 2010 as over 7,000 feet of pipe was installed along the Margate Causeway. This pipe provided an excellent source of protection for the terrapins in that community. This type of protective fencing has a much lower profile than other types of turtle fencing and pedestrian-induced damage to the fencing is insignificant.

The pipe is expected to remain in place throughout the year, but sections may have to be removed at times during a county construction project along the boulevard in the fall. The Cape May County Engineer’s office has approved this conservation project along the boulevard. The Avalon Department of Public Works will be responsible for its maintenance. The cost of the project is largely financed by funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.