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      Jean Sullivan
      Communications Director
      732-473-3100 x 3060

    Page Title| Happenings News Stories  2010


    May 25, 2010

    Mates Students To Build Terrapin Hatchery
    Jean Sullivian, May 25, 2010

    PHOTO CAPTION: MATES Sophomore explains the identification markings on a terrapin to volunteer-in-training Brendan deMitt, of Manahawkin.

    MANAHAWKIN, NEW JERSEY- Students from the Research Methods Class at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) are preparing to construct a terrapin hatchery at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies. The hatchery will be part of MATES ongoing terrapin research and conservation efforts known as Project Terrapin.

    Each year MATES students visit terrapin nesting areas. Once a nest is found the location is recorded and a wire mesh enclosure is used to protect the eggs until they hatch. Each nest is monitored for temperature and moisture retention during the incubation period. MATES Supervisor and Project Terrapin Coordinator John Wnek explains, “Overall we have seen a decline in the terrapin populations. Without the use of the wire mesh enclosures, the nests can experience up to a 90% predation rate. By protecting the nests we greatly improve the success rate of hatching.”

    This year the newly constructed hatchery will be used for displaced terrapin nests. “We receive phone calls from people saying that a terrapin has layed her eggs in their backyard or in a low lying area where the eggs will not survive. We can now go out and relocate those eggs to the hatchery. Once the eggs hatch we will mark them for identification and tracking purposes and then release them in the area where the nest was originally found. MATES holds a special permit which allows them to handle terrapins.

    PHOTO CAPTION: MATES students install wire mesh fencing to enclose nesting area.

    The LBI Foundation offered the grounds for the hatchery and the location offers almost ideal conditions for the nests. Sophomore Amber Thiel of Jackson explains, “The area is a good mix of loamy sand which is really good for nesting. The loamy sand warms up with the sun and then holds more of that heat during the night. It also retains more moisture than regular sand.” Heat and moisture have tremendous impact on the eggs. The average temperature of a nest will determine if the hatchlings are male or female and the moisture levels affect the size of the babies.

    MATES students held a volunteer training session on Tuesday May 11th. Several Ocean County residents began their training to help locate and monitor terrapin nests. They will learn the proper use of a thermocouple for temperature readings and how to record and track data which can be used to improve future generations of terrapins.

    Construction of the hatchery began on Tuesday May 25th. Students installed four feet high sections of wire mesh fencing to enclose the prepared nesting areas. For more information about the hatchery or to get involved as a volunteer please contact John Wnek at jwenk@mail.ocvts.org.

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