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Turtles Go Wild: TERPS Students Release Diamondback Terrapins on Tybee Island

students from the TERPS project in the tidal marsh holding turtles to be released.

(May 18, 2017) –Armstrong State University student members of the Terrapin Educational Research Program of Savannah (TERPS) recently gathered on Tybee Island to release 17 diamondback terrapins into the wild. The state-protected turtles hatched from eggs rescued on Highway 80 last summer.

“Our research students work with the diamondback terrapins year-round,” said Armstrong Biology Professor and TERPS Advisor Kathryn Craven, Ph.D. “They cared for the turtles on campus and have been proud foster parents.”

closeup of a palm-sized diamond back terrapin

The diamondback terrapin, which can be found along the Eastern seaboard, is the only North American turtle species to live exclusively in brackish water. TERPS is designed to raise awareness of the marsh turtles and to reduce their mortality on area roadways and in local crab traps.

The program was originally launched in 2004 by Armstrong undergraduate Jordan Gray, who is now a senior scientist for the American Freshwater Turtle Research Group in Houston, Texas. Today, TERPS is a full-scale educational outreach program and continues to attract students with an interest in biology and wildlife conservation.

“The mission of TERPS is public outreach and education with a focus on how to prevent causing harm to marsh turtles,” said Craven. “We also want to find out more about the local turtle population and growth rates.”

The Department of Biology at Armstrong allows students to choose from tailor-made programs with Cell and Molecular, Marine and General Biology tracks, as well as numerous opportunities for internships and undergraduate research.

Brent Feske, Ph.D.

"I love seeing students get inspired by chemistry, in the classroom and in the lab."

Brent Feske, Ph.D.
Teaching since: 2005