Sampling and Processing Diamondback Terrapins at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
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Current Projects
We primarily use two methods for capturing diamondback terrapins in the tidal creeks of Kiawah Island, South Carolina. These methods are seining and trammel nets. We have also captured terrapins by hand, dipnets, cast-netting, recreational crab traps, and road surveys. Typically, we capture a higher proportion of males during seining and a higher proportion of females in trammel nets. If we find individuals in crab traps, they tend to be males and other young age cohorts.


Tidal Creeks at low tide Setting up the seine
Seining Oyster Creek Pulling in a seine haul

Trammel Nets

Pulling in a trammel net
Finding a terrapin
Finding a stingray in a trammel net
Finding bonnet-head sharks in a trammel net


When we capture terrapins at Kiawah Island, we return all individuals to land before we process and release them. We measure carapace length, plastron length, shell width, shell depth, mass, gravidity, age, and injuries. These measures have allowed us to analyze several questions (See current projects and publications).
Filing a mark into the turtle shell as part of its individual code
Measuring shell depth of a male terrapin
Weighing a male terrapin
Aging a terrapin

This website created by Leigh Anne Harden and Kristen Cecala.
Some photographs by J.D. Willson, Tom Luhring, and Cris Hagen.

Questions? Contact Michael Dorcas