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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


MCBP seeks volunteers for terp research

(May 21, 2015) Maryland Coastal Bays Program, partnering with the Maryland Terrapin Working Group, a group composed of terrapin researchers and managers, is looking for volunteers to help with the fourth annual terrapin head count survey, May 26-30.
The Diamondback Terrapin may be Maryland’s state reptile and the mascot for the University of Maryland, but its current population status in the coastal bays, as well as in the state, is poorly understood.   
The annual terrapin head count survey is held in the Chesapeake Bay and the coastal bays to better understand its status in the state. Counting terrapin heads in the water as they congregate for breeding (or other purposes) is considered to be an effective way of monitoring population numbers.  The turtles are not to be captured or disturbed, just observed and counted.
Continuing these observations over a period of time allows researchers to observe terrapin behavior patterns. Departures from average numbers could point to areas of concern.  
The coastal bays count will consist of surveys in all five bays including tidal creeks and marsh guts. As with past years, surveys can be conducted by crews in either motorized boats or canoes, kayaks and Stand-up paddleboards.
Organizers are looking for boat owners who can provide the transport, observers to identify turtles in the water (the terrapin is typically the turtle occupying brackish/salt water, but other turtles, such as snapping turtles, may venture into those waters as well) and a person who can accurately fill out survey forms in the field, including GPS coordinates.
Locations of surveys will depend on the number of crews that are available.
For more information, contact the Jennifer Rafter at 410-213-2297 x 109 or  and indicate if you have a boat and the location interested in covering or if you would like to be an observer, or scribe.  
A land-based survey is being added this year to collect data that might not otherwise be reported.  
To participate in the land-based Terrapin Tally, simply report any terrapin sightings from May 26-30, and include a photograph if possible on MCBP website, or by calling Rafter.  Training materials for properly reporting terrapins from the land-based survey will be available at by May 16.  
MCBP can only use information for reported terrapins if either a physical address or the GPS coordinates in decimal degrees for the sighting are reported. Sightings are important to help understand the terrapin populations in the coastal bays.
MCBP will host an optional training covering both land and boat based surveys on Saturday, May 16 at 1 p.m. This training will take place at the MCBP office at 8219 Stephen Decatur Highway in Berlin,   on the right side just south of 376/Assateague Road on Route 611/Stephen Decatur Highway (the old Pine Shore South Clubhouse).
To RSVP for the training, use the contact information above.