The diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin, is found in undeveloped areas along the coasts. It has a gray to black shell. Females may reach a length of 9". It is active during the day.
The diamondback terrapin is not like most turtles in North America because it is able to live in brackish estuaries and salt marshes. The diamondback survives in coastal habitats from Maine to Texas because it it adaptable. Terrapins live in our backyard in the Patcong Creek, Great Egg Harbor River and Bay. What other animals live in the wetlands habitat?
Terrapins are different from turtles because they are edible. The unique characteristic of being an attractive food source for people has affected the New Jersey terrapin in an interesting way. During the "Roaring Twenties," the terrapin became an important ingredient in the popular terrapin stew served in exclusive restaurants.
Diamondbacks in New Jersey were
overhunted. Many diamondbacks were imported from the Louisianna area. When the stockmarket crashed in 1929, many of these Louisianna "imports" were released
into the New Jersey wetlands. As a result of this unintentional introduction
of new varieties of terrapins, the New Jersey diamondback terrapin
has an interesting diversity of shell patterns. The New Jersey diamondbacks
have a wide variety of shell patterns and coloring.
Did you know our Great Egg Harbor River has been named a Wild and Scenic River? Why does it have a copper color sometimes? How long is it? Visit
The National Park Service to learn more!
Adapt a Local River What can you do to help keep our backyard clean?