Turtle Releases Continue through September

Courtesy Of Skidaway Audubon

It’s turtle time on Skidaway Island! Diamondback terrapin eggs are being rescued from golf course sand traps by dedicated Skidaway Audubon volunteers. Tucked safely away in protected sandboxes, the eggs are incubating, and soon residents can help release the tiny hatchlings into the marsh.

Skidaway Audubon’s annual turtle releases are scheduled for 5 p.m. at Sunset Park on August 22 and September 5 and 19,  and are open to island residents with gate passes. There is a maximum of 100 attendees per session, and participants may only attend one session due to the popularity of this event. Participants must register online at skidawayaudubon.org and must be five years of age or older, due to the terrapin's status as a species of concern in Georgia. Click on the news/events tab to register. 

Attendees will learn how volunteers carefully rescue the eggs from the golf courses and place them in hatcheries to protect them from predators. They also will be able to observe how each terrapin is unique, understand the role that the terrapins play in the protection of the salt marshes, and how they are able to break free of their egg shells once they are ready to hatch. At the conclusion of the educational talks, participants will be instructed to gently release the newborn hatchlings. The events take place at Sunset Park, 707 Landings Way South. Parking is limited.

Years ago, diamondbacks were harvested by the hundreds of thousands for soups and as pets. To help restore the population, Skidaway Audubon carries out the Diamondback Terrapin Project under a permit from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The project is one of the largest of its kind along the nation’s East Coast, and contributes to The Landings Golf and Athletic Club’s certification as an Audubon International Cooperative Environmental Sanctuary. It also generates meaningful data being used by researchers to aid in the recovery of the species.

“We are so appreciative of the strong support The Landings golfers have shown us year after year, alerting us to sightings of mamma terrapins as they emerge from the marshes and make their way to their favorite sand trap to lay their eggs,” said Skidaway Audubon’s Terrapin Project Chair Lisa Isenhour. “And their words of encouragement and support for our mission truly means a lot to our team of volunteers who work long and hard in the summer heat to help in the recovery of this species. The project is another treasured, unique feature of this special community and highlights the caring nature of our residents and golfers.”

Last year, a record 3,787 baby terrapins were hatched and released. In addition to its successful rescue and release efforts, Skidaway Audubon volunteers also conduct educational programs about the terrapins. Three hatchling “Show and Tells” are scheduled. The first is August 17 at 5 p.m. at The Landings Community Park, and is open to island residents with gate passes. Pre-register online for the August 17 session at skidawayaudubon.org by clicking on the news/events tab. Registration begins July 16. Two others will be held at Skidaway Island State Park at 10 a.m., on August 26 and September 2, and are open to all. To register for the latter two event, visit the state park website, and be aware there is a parking fee.  No turtles will be released at any of these three educational events.

Skidaway Audubon’s mission is to enhance and conserve Skidaway Island’s natural environment. In addition to implementing a wide variety of projects, it strives to promote environmental awareness through education and outreach. For more information about Skidaway Audubon activities, or to make a much-needed and appreciated donation to help continue these programs, visit SkidawayAudubon.org. Information also is available on the Friends of Skidaway Audubon Facebook page.

Click the video below, captured by The Landings Association's Executive Assistant to the Public Works Manager Amber Capps, for a quick glimpse into a turtle release. 


This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit landings.org to read the original article.