On the last day of our trip to the New Jersey beach, we headed to Stone Harbor to visit the Wetlands Institute. The Institute was having its Fall Migration Festival / Terrapin Release, and had all sorts of interesting seminars about birds, animals, and turtles throughout the day. They even had a fly tying expert giving demonstrations throughout the day.
|The Wetlands Institute, Stone Harbor, New Jersey|
We learned that the Diamondback Terrapins are often hit by cars as they make their way through the salt flats and onto the roads prior to laying their eggs, and so the Wetlands Institute has a rescue and release program. Terrapin eggs are harvested from the mothers that are killed, incubated until the babies are born, and then at an optimal time, the young terrapins are released out into the marsh.
On the day we were there, twelve young Diamondbacks were to be released. We were able to see and hold these young terrapins prior to their release, and learn all about them in one of the afternoon seminars. These are some of the turtles that are ready for their new lives:
|Two of the twelve|
At the end of the day, the twelve terrapins were taken out into the marsh at the far end of the Institute's boardwalk and released.
Every hour a new seminar started, including one that highlighted birds of prey.
This girl was a professional handler and had several birds along with her for her presentation. She obviously has a passion for her birds and their care, and told numerous funny stories about the birds' personalities and quirks.
In between classes, we visited the live animal exhibits in the small aquarium at the Institute. I learned that an octopus is very smart. In fact, and although I have a hard time believing it, this octopus has more brain neurons than a human.
There was one hour in which we went on a guided marshlands birdwatching expedition. Two birding experts were on hand with scopes and information about what we were seeing out along the path. In addition to birds, we saw small nets that were marking and protecting the egg nests of the terrapins. The marshland predators wait until the eggs are laid and then dig them up, so the Institute gives known nests a little help.
|Terrapin egg nest|
|A shy porcupine|
|This lizard looks way too much like a snake to me.|
So, all in all, we had a fine time at the beach for five days, and enjoyed some new and interesting experiences.
Now, we are home, laundry is being done, and we are packing our bags again. Why?
Because our plane leaves at dawn tomorrow for South Dakota. If the government doesn't "shut down" in the next few days, we hope to visit some National Parks and Monuments. If it does, well then....
More adventures to come, stay tuned.