Why did the turtle cross the road? To lay her eggs on the other side…
Every year between May and mid-July, thousands of diamondback terrapins migrate to the salty marshlands along our shores. Unfortunately, hundreds are killed on their journey when crossing busy roads. With traffic beginning to ramp up this time of year, it’s especially important to make way for our Jersey Shore nesting turtles.
Our Jersey Shore Nesting Turtles
While not endangered, terrapins are monitored regularly so as to ensure they don’t become endangered. Each year, momma turtles lay their eggs along the Atlantic coastline. Reports of their annual migration come from as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. Volunteers put up fencing along the roads to help protect our Jersey Shore nesting turtles. However, these fences deteriorated from winter weather and road maintenance. New black tubing replaced these old fences in Margate last year. Its durability caught the attention of Middle Township officials. They will start installing some there as well.
Always keep an eye out when driving around. When you spot a turtle on the road, slow down…… When it’s safe, pick it up and bring it to the other side of the road.
What to Do if You See Migrating Jersey Shore Nesting Turtles
These crossings aren’t just dangerous for our migrating Jersey Shore nesting turtles. They create road hazards for drivers. Dozens of accidents occur each year due to drivers swerving to avoid these beautiful creatures. And it isn’t unusual to see drivers get out of their cars to help usher the momma turtles to the other side safely. First of all, always keep an eye out when driving around. When you spot a turtle on the road, slow down. If you’d like to help it on its journey, stop your car along the side of the road. Watch it to see which direction it is heading. When it’s safe, pick it up and bring it to the other side of the road. Place it in the direction it was originally going so that it can continue on its intended path.
Never take these turtles home to keep as pets. They’re wild creatures and need to stay that way. Turn off your exterior house lights during migrating season. They confuse the hatchlings. The Wetlands Institute protects and monitors local turtles. You can help them with their efforts by adopting a terrapin. Contact Christina Wallers at (609) 368-1211 for more information. Please do your part this nesting season to keep our nesting turtles safe. Be vigilant whenever you cruise the causeway.