Herpetological ReI,iell'. 2011, 42(2). 17()"177. © 2011 by Society for the Study ofAmphibians and Reptiles
Chesapeake Bay's Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemy's terrapin terrapin) population ha made considerable recovery from the commercial exploitation that led to its near extirpation in the late 19'" and early 20'" centuries (Carr 1952; McCauley 1945). Nevertheless, it continues to face increasing threats from human population growth, degradation of the Bay, exposure to man-made hazards (Butler et al. 2006; Roosenburg 1991; Siegel and Gibbons 1995), and, during the period of this study (2003-2005), continued commercial harvest in the Maryland portion of the Bay. The state of Maryland maintained an active terrapin fishery that was closed only during the terrapin ne ting season (May-July), had no daily or ea onal catch limit, and exclu ively targeted breeding-age female, i.e., terrapins with plastron length ;,,15.2 cm. Although the fishery was perceived a small, with little market demand, the long season and 'no limit' regulation left the fishery vulnerable to over harvest. Concern over this vulnerability led us to examine the method of traditional winter harvest and characteristics of terrapins occupying hibernacula. Although generations of Chesapeake Bay watermen have pursued winter harvest of terrapins, fishing methods, locations of hibernacula, and the terrapins occupying them have not previously been documented.
The Terrapin Institute began in 1998 as a consortium of concerned citizens, scientists, resource managers, and educators dedicated to the understanding, persistence, and recovery of Diamondback Terrapins and other turtles through effective management, thorough research, and public outreach. We work to protect an abundance of adult turtle populations, preserve nesting and forage habitat, and improve recruitment. In return the terrapin has become the perfect metaphor for natural resource stewardship and public engagement; the face of estuarine restoration, and a gateway to the many wonders of our rich tidewater heritage.