|One of the Aquarium's diamondback terrapins (Photo: A. Sargent)|
|Right at home in the marsh (Coastal Review Online/Tess Malijenovsky)|
|Home sweet home-the Aquarium's Mangrove Exhibit!|
No matter where they live, terrapins they are important to their ecosystem! Their smiley expression is thanks to a set of big, strong jaws, perfect for cracking hard shells of a favorite food- snails! Periwinkle snails, though small, can alter a coastal salt marsh community if their populations grow too numerous. In large numbers, the snails overgraze marsh grasses and can quickly damage habitat.
|Periwinkles climbing marsh grass (NOAA Photo Library)|
|Salt marsh in Boston's backyard (MA Bays Program)|
As it turns out, these feisty reptiles need our help. Diamondback terrapins are currently listed as threatened here in Massachusetts. So what can we do? While recreational and commercial crabbing is a threat in some areas, the biggest overall challenge terrapins face is the loss of crucial marsh habitats, as humans development and sea level rise encroaches on prime terrapin real estate. Fortunately, there are communities and conservation organizations that work to protect and restore salt marshes! If you or someone you know lives along the coast, encourage them to join and support the cause!
|Happy news for terrapins! (Photo: S. Bazany)|
|Oh hi...is it time to eat? Our two resident terrapins (Photo: A. Sargent)|