The Skidaway Audubon Diamondback Terrapin Rescue project is the largest endeavor of its kind along the East Coast. The Diamondback is the only turtle species in the U.S. that lives in brackish waters along tidal marshes, creeks and estuaries.
Diamondbacks were harvested almost to extinction in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. In 2003 the state of Georgia added the Diamondback to it “Species of Concern” and banned commercial harvesting of the turtles.
Volunteers work under the direction of naturalist John Crawford from the UGA Marine Science Center. With John’s support we are sub-permittees under his Department Of Natural Resources Scientific Collection Permit.
When you see a golf cart – or bicycle — flying a blue flag with a turtle on it, you’re seeing one of the Diamondback Terrapin volunteers going about his/her duties. From late April til early August, the volunteers are searching for turtles laying eggs and nests that have already been laid in sand traps. From mid-July through mid-October the volunteers are checking the nesting boxes for baby turtles that have hatched and are ready to go to the marsh.
Over 15,000 hatchlings have been released since the rescue program started.
The first step in laying eggs is to dig a nice deep hole removing the sand with her flippers
This Diamondback Terrapin Turtle laid her eggs in the sand beside the golf cart path for the #9 tee box on the Plantation Golf Course. Pattye Field, one of Skidaway Audubon’s Diamondback Terrapin Rescue Program volunteers, spotted the turtle and Ben McMakin, a former volunteer, captured the event on video, June 13, 2020.