Diamondback terrapins are turtles that inhabit estuaries along the east and Gulf coasts of the United States. They range from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to northern Mexico. Terrapins were harvested in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s as a food source with a high demand leading to reductions in their populations across their range. In the 1930’s, terrapins became less desirable food sources and populations increased in areas with good habitat, but not much is known about populations in certain areas. What make terrapins so interesting are their markings, which are highly variable and prominent. Reasons for the variation include genetic diversity and some variations in their patterns could be linked to environmental conditions.
Bycatch Reduction Devices
Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin)
live in brackish saltwater marshes, coastal bays
Cod, MA, to
TX. They are
Today, because of habitat loss, boat strikes,
and other human-induced stresses, terrapin
populations within the Chesapeake Bay are
under even greater pressure to survive.
The greatest threat to diamondback terrapins
is drowning in crab pots. Male and young
pots, as they
attracted to the same bait used to attract blue
crabs. Terrapins may also enter out of
curiosity or because they are looking for a
safe resting place.
Recreational crab pots are typically set in the
same places males and juvenile female
terrapins live - shallow, near-shore waters
along creeks and marshes.
The blue crab
sapidus, is one of
the largest on-
in the Chesapeake
Bay, and crabbing is a favorite pastime for many
Virginia residents as well.
In Virginia, it is illegal to collect
diamondback terrapins for commercial or
(see Virginia Department of Game and Inland
Fisheries Nongame regulations at
A bycatch reduction device (BRD) is a simple
and low-cost way to prevent terrapins and other
marine organisms, such as blue catfish which eat
blue crabs, from getting into your crab pots.
Attaching a BRD to each funnel opening will
prevent most terrapins and other unwanted
organisms from entering the pot.
Studies have shown that while effective at
preventing other animals from entering,
BRDs have little impact on the size and
number of blue crabs found in crab pots.
Please help prevent unnecessary dea