A ghastly site to see each summer. Crushed turtles along the coastal roadways of Margate, Ventnor and Longport. Some still alive, broken shells, writhing in pain. Others doing their best to cross busy roads like the Margate causeway.
Speeding vehicles in both directions, often don’t see the turtles until it’s too late.
Things have gotten so bad, a group was formed back in 2007 to address this environmental horror show.
The Margate Terrapin Rescue Project was created by Margate residents Lisa and Don Doherty. It was further strengthened by Northfield resident Bill Doughty Jr., who was alarmed by the number of roadkill he observed while traveling on the Margate Causeway.
Margate Terrapin Rescue Project Mission: To protect Diamondback Terrapins (a salt marsh turtle) around the Margate Causeway and promote awareness through education, meetings, and social media.
The local terrapin turtle population, featuring approx 100 pregnant females, are struck and killed by motor vehicles each year on the Margate Causeway. This is a trend these salt marsh turtles can’t sustain.
Coastal development on barrier islands like Margate, Longport, Ventnor, Brigantine and Atlantic City has destroyed most of the sand dunes that originally served as the primary nesting site for terrapins.
With the disappearance of sand dunes and installation of bulkheads, females turtles had to find alternative nesting grounds, primarily the shoulders of roads crossing and adjacent to their native salt marshes.
Since 2007, this collaborative grassroots effort has significantly reduced terrapin roadkill by installing terrapin tubing and fencing, conducting road patrols to assist terrapins across the road and by educating the community about the importance of being alert for terrapins while traveling on the Margate Causeway.
Embankments of causeways have proved to be a dangerous substitute for sand dunes. This has resulted in hundreds of terrapin road kills annually, across South Jersey.
Drownings in crab traps is another serious threat, along with impacts with boat propellers. Combine these threats and you have the answer to why terrapin populations in New Jersey are in serious decline, which prompted the creation of the Margate Terrapin Rescue Project.
Doughty and Doherty have worked closely with Wetlands Institute scientists and staff, the Margate Bridge Company, the city of Margate, local businesses, local Boy Scout troop 634 and students from Atlantic City High School and The Atlantic County Institute of Technology to purchase and install terrapin barrier fencing along the Margate Causeway
Interested in getting involved with the daily road patrols? Fill out this form.
If you see a terrapin, safely stop and move it in the direction it was heading; NOT where it came from.
Diamondback terrapins are wild animals and beautiful species but are NOT PETS! Do not take terrapin turtles as pets.
Find an injured turtle? Call the Wetlands Institute at (609) 368-1211
Looking to donate? You can donate via PayPal.
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