A common turtle in the coastal regions of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina is the diamondback terrapin. You will notice the turtle spelled differently throughout the article. While the proper spelling is Diamondback Terrapin, it is commonly misspelled as Diamond Back Terripan. Learn about this unique coastal turtle that is unlike sea turtles and freshwater turtles. 

What Is The Range Of A Diamondback Terrapin

The diamondback has an extensive range along the east coast of the United States. Diamond back terripan populations range from Cape Cod, Massachusets on the northern end and down through the Florida Keys at the southern end of the state.

What Habitat Does The Diamondback Terrapin Live

The turtle lives in areas where the tide will saturate marsh grass during high tides before rushing out and drying at low tide. 

When it comes to water salinity, diamondbacks prefer brackish water, a mixture of fresh and saltwater. Read about brackish water to learn more.  

The terrapin does not venture out to sea but remains tucked away in the marsh grass, unlike the sea turtle. Additionally, diamondbacks are homebodies as they rarely stray from where they live. 

What Do Diamondback Terrapin Eat

The diamondback has a vast appetite. Diamondback Terrapin consumes clams, barnacles, shrimp, fish, mollusks, mussels, crab, snails, and worms. The turtle’s jaws are powerful, allowing it to crush hard shells and reach the meat inside. 

Why Are The Populations Of The Diamondback Terrapin Declining

Terrapin meat was considered a delicacy in the early 1900’s. Seafood markets demanded top dollar for the valuable meat. Due to overharvesting, populations plummeted. 

In addition to overfishing for diamondbacks, the turtle is prone to paralytic shellfish toxins. The toxins are ingested from the turtle eating shellfish. A diamond back terripan that has consumed the toxin will suffer from muscle weakness and death. 

 Humans have been a significant factor in the decline of terrapin populations. The construction along the shores of marshlands has significantly reduced the habitat where diamondbacks live. A contributing factor to construction is the increased number of roadways. The brackish water turtles cross roadways. As a result, passing vehicles strike and kill the turtles.

Recreational and commercial crab fishing has lead to the downfall of the terrapin population. The diamondback enters the crab trap as a result of the food contained inside. Once inside, they become trapped and succumb to drowning with the inability to breathe air. 

Fortunately, research has created a crab trap device that prevents the diamondback terrapin from entering. The device is called terrapin excluding device.  While the accessory is highly effective, it is required by law in a small number of states. Finding a dead turtle in the trap will not be an enjoyable experience. Utilize a terrapin excluding device.

Are There Organizations Who Protect Diamondback Turtle Populations

On Skidaway Island, just outside of Savannah, Georgia, is the largest organization protecting the diamondbacks population.

The Skidaway Audubon Diamondback Terrapin Rescue Project does an excellent job of protecting the turtle population and educating the public. The group of volunteers hosts events to learn how they nest, eat and live and allow the visitors to handle and release a diamondback into the marsh.

In 2020 the organization found 409 nests and relocated them to safety nesting boxes. Volunteers located 409 nests. The nests accounted for 3,150 hatchlings. The numbers were staggering. 

Do You Have A Better Understanding Of A Diamond Back Terripan 

Despite the intentional misspelling, there is a lot to know about the turtle. Interestingly enough, the diamondback is the only turtle in the United States that lives in brackish water. As you venture along the shore of the east coast, keep an eye out for terrapin. Additionally, these creatures tend to lay eggs in strand traps on golf courses, and you may stumble across a nest or two.