The Turtles are Coming! The Turtles are Coming!

By Co-Chair Lisa Isenhour
Skidaway Audubon Diamondback Terrapin Rescue Project

The bleak days of winter are all but gone. With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer comes the miracle of new birth and that includes our precious Diamondback Terrapins, a turtle species that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources classifies as a “species of concern.” 

In the early 1920s, the Diamondback Terrapins, a turtle species that lives in the brackish waters of the coastal marshes, were hunted almost to the point of extinction for culinary purposes.  Due to conservation efforts from many sources, we’re happy to report that their numbers are slowly rising. However, they still are at risk from natural predators, boaters, crab traps, and loss of habitat, just to name a few. Our goal is to protect this species and to educate the community about their existence and what we can all do to help ensure their recovery and survival.

We are the Diamondback Terrapin Rescue Project, a Skidaway Audubon volunteer group of nearly 20 people. We monitor holes 3, 8, 9, 10 and 15 on the Terrapin Point Golf Course (named for the Diamondback Terrapins) from mid-April through the first of August looking for female Diamondback Terrapins coming out of the marsh waters to lay their nests. If the terrapin is in danger of potential harm from golfers, we carefully move her to one of our “nurseries” to lay her nest.  If there are no golfers, we allow her to nest wherever she wants, commonly in the sand bunkers. We collect data from each female terrapin and then return her to the marsh as close to where she came in, as possible. We then carefully relocate the eggs from her nest to a protective hatching box, safe from predators. Once the eggs hatch, (late July through early October) we start checking the hatching boxes and immediately release any emerged hatchlings back to the marsh area. In 2023, we had 575 nests with a total of 4,823 eggs.

The data we collect, and any unhatched eggs, are shared with researchers from the University of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This data has helped scientists and researchers learn more about these turtles that only exist in the United States (from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, down the eastern coast to Florida and west to Corpus Christi, Texas) and Bermuda.

We have several ways to help educate the community. In addition to our annual Community Releases and Show & Tells in August and September (look for more information on this in late June/early July), we also can give PowerPoint presentations to clubs and organizations or visit schools for interactive talks. If you are interested in a presentation, please give me a call to discuss (404-550-0118).

When you’re on Terrapin Point golf course, please take one of our calling cards (at holes 3, 8, 9, 10 or 15), which will be available by the end of April. If you see one of these turtles, (recognized by the distinct geometric or hieroglyphic designs on their backs) please call us (831-626-1372 or 404-550-0118). We’ll send someone out as quickly as possible. And as always, a very heartfelt shoutout to our amazing golfing community, which has been so supportive of our program over the years.  We could not help these turtles without your support. 


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

Visit to read the original article.