Diamondback Terrapin

The Diamondback Terrapin, our Maryland State Reptile!

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Leslie and I are in the process of performing an ongoing rare, threatened and endangered plant survey for a client in St. Mary’s County, MD.  While investigating a section of beach on the tidal Saint Mary’s River, we came across an adult female diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin).

I think we startled the turtle’s privacy and suspect that she was investigating nesting sites.  I laid down on the beach with my feet in the water to capture these close-up, face-on photos.

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Immediately, the turtle was looking for her escape route to the water.

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Diamondbacks are an indicator of relative health, as they prefer unpolluted saltwater and quality marsh systems.

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In winter they hibernate underwater in mud, and emerge in May.  During June they are in mating and nesting mode.  Males are smaller, averaging 5-inches.  Females reach maturity at about 7-years and are larger than the males, having an average 7-inch shell.  Diamondbacks live upwards to 20-years old.

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They are a native southeast coastline species, and occur from the Chesapeake Bay, south to Florida.

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The diamondback terrapin is the Maryland State reptile, and official mascot of the University of Maryland at College Park, my undergraduate alma mater.  Go Terps!

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She looks like she is wearing Terps Under Armour.

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I’m outta here NCAA, going to the Big-10.

 

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