Through Terrapins in the Classroom, students care for hatchling terrapins throughout the school year, and then release them back into their natural habitat.
In April, 37 terrapins were released on Poplar Island, and the remaining 14 terrapins will be released in June. Students traveled from 13 schools across the state for the April release, participating in several activities before the release itself. Students learned about the history of Poplar Island—which is known as a national model of environmental restoration—and tested the water to make sure it was suitable for the terrapins.
Students then traveled to the release site, where they scanned the terrapins’ tag numbers before saying their final goodbyes and releasing them into the wetlands.
Since the program’s inception in 2008, Terrapins in the Classroom has helped foster a connection between students and local wildlife, while also helping to conserve and protect the diamondback terrapin, which is Maryland’s official state reptile. Diamondback terrapin populations have declined considerably in many areas of their geographic range, and hatchlings are vulnerable to predation and flooding in their salt marsh habitat.
At the beginning of the school year, hatchling terrapins from Poplar Island are provided to 45 schools across the state participating in Terrapins in the Classroom. Students observe and study their terrapins—collecting growth data, learning animal care techniques, and doing research about the animal—before returning the turtles to Poplar Island for their final send-off.
In this way, Terrapins in the Classroom creates a meaningful connection between students and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It’s just one of many National Aquarium initiatives designed to inspire the next generation of conservationists!
Terrapins in the Classroom and other National Aquarium educational programs are made possible by grants from our corporate and philanthropic partners, and the support of donors like you. Thank you! Supporters are recognized in our Annual Report.
Check out our upcoming conservation events to help conserve the wetlands that are critical habitats for terrapins and many other species of wildlife!