by Brian Williamson

In an effort to fill gaps in our knowledge of behavior and survival of juvenile terrapins, we initiated a telemetry study to track movements of head-started juvenile terrapins this summer. We are partnering with Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT), a wildlife tracking company based in Cape May County, New Jersey, to test the use of new tracking technologies on terrapins.

Our first delivery of telemetry receivers and transmitters arrived in early July, and we immediately began attachment of transmitters and field deployment of our size-appropriate head-started terrapins. In all, 25 terrapins will be released with transmitters.

We also installed a multidirectional antennae and base station at TWI’s boat house, and an array of mini-receivers were installed on a 100m grid around our property and surrounding marsh. These nodes receive, send, and store signals from the transmitters every 15-20 seconds, giving us information on where the terrapins are spending time within the detection range.

We also have a handheld receiver to locate them in the marsh. We are in the early stages of data gathering, but are very excited by all we are discovering so far, including information on habitat, distance moved after release, and condition of the transmitter.

This telemetry work will continue over the next year with support from private donors and foundations foundations including Davenport Family Foundation, Leff Family Foundation, Quest for the Best Foundation and the Franklin Parker grant program. We are excited about this new partnership and investment for The Wetlands Institute to exhibit our expertise, address new research questions for terrapins, and bring that information to conservation programs and the community.