The Present of Presence – Terrapins off Long Island


During this special time of year when warm seasonal greetings are openly exchanged among friends and strangers alike as tokens of good will and shared community, Turtle Journal received the best gift of all: the present of presence.  Two dedicated boaters from the Greater New York metropolitan area separately called the hotline (508-274-5108) to report the presence of diamondback terrapins on the north shore of Long Island this past summer.  While we won’t reveal the exact area to protect the privacy of these shy and elusive critters, we hope that other boaters and beach goers along the Long Island shore will let us know about other sightings.  This information will be provided to researchers at Hofstra University and conservationists at the New York Turtle & Tortoise Society.

These avid boaters recently read Northeast Boating editor Tom Richardson’s article in the December issue, Terrapins Among Us, and recalled their summer encounter with turtles on the north shore of Long Island near Huntington and Oyster Bay.  In several decades of boating in Long Island sound, they had never seen a terrapin.  Then, on this one day as they slipped into a protected estuary and steered to a sheltered anchorage near a salt marsh, they spotted nine diamondback terrapins!  When they saw Tom’s story, they sent him an email and followed up with the phone call to the Turtle Journal team.  They were surprised that after all these years patroling the sound, and poking into protected estuaries, they had finally caught a glimpse of these elusive creatures that have been called a “Big Foot” of coastal ecosystems, because they’re so often discussed and so rarely actually seen.

Thanks to Tom Richardson and Northeast Boating for spreading the legend of diamondback terrapins and a special thanks to his readers who care enough about habitat conservation and protecting rare species that they went out of their way to ensure that their sighting was formally documented.

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