Middle school students help baby turtles

June 9, 2009 3:13:40 PM PDT
Students from Dawes Avenue and Jordan Avenue schools in Somers Point recently took a special field trip. They had the opportunity to return diamond back terrapin turtles to the salt marshes of Strathmere."I just like to know that they'll be happy out in the wild," said 7th grader Laura Cabrera.

"I think that everything deserves to live a life, not in captivity, just to live like free," said 8th grader Samad Campbell.

The children first saw the turtles shortly after they hatched in the laboratory at Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor.

"More or less an environmental awareness to let the kids know that they can be a part of conservation in their own backyard," said their teacher Liz Lichtenstein.

The youngsters have even raised money for the institute through pretzel sales.

"They see the terrapins on the road and it's about the same time that the tourists come and they feel bad about it and sometimes they even go out on the road to try and save a terrapin," explained Mary Rydzewski, another of the student's teachers.

We've seen the turtle crossing signs and you may have noticed these fences along the roads at the shore they're designed to keep the turtles from going onto the streets but still last year nearly 600 were killed in Cape May County alone.

The Wetlands Institute harvests the eggs, nurtures them, and then releases them to the tune of about 200 a year!

"It's pretty clear that we're not putting back as many terrapins into the marsh that are getting killed every year so they're clearly has to be a diminishing number of adult females and that's a really bad sign," said Dr. Roger Wood of the Wetlands Institute.

Making people aware of the potential for local extinction is very important, starting them young makes environmentally good sense.

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