A Headstart for Maryland's Terrapins!

The beginning of September means cooler evenings, schools back in session and terrapin hatchlings!

Published September 03, 2015


Recently, the Aquarium’s Conservation team welcomed 51 hatchling diamondback terrapins from our site at Poplar Island. After passing their Animal Health exams, these tiny turtles have remained under our team’s watchful eyes for a few weeks, making sure they are gaining strength and a healthy appetite. In a few weeks, the terrapin hatchlings be distributed to schools throughout Maryland as part of our Terrapins in the Classroom program! 


Through this program, students and teachers are charged with caring for the little turtle all school year. They collect growth data, observe behaviors, learn animal care skills and research the natural history of the species. In late spring, the students release the terrapins back onto Poplar Island. The hatchlings are quarter-sized right now, but throughout the year they grow steadily in a warm, clean classroom tank with all the UVB and basking heat they could want…and without fear of predators! 

Scientists are studying the impact of this ‘headstart’ on adult terrapin populations around Poplar Island. Last year, a female head start terrapin was found nesting on the island for the first time, which is great news! 


Terrapins in the Classroom is one of many National Aquarium programs that provide a unique, hands-on opportunity for students to form a meaningful connection to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Terrapins are a protected species in Maryland, as well as the state reptile, and their population numbers have stabilized only recently due to the diligence of local experts and supporters. 

This school year, hundreds of students will do their part to help preserve our state’s natural legacy! You too can do your part by planting a wetland, cleaning up our waterways and practicing terrapin-safe crabbing!

Previous Post

Featured Stories

Jellies in petri dish Welcome to the Jelly Jungle

Deep inside the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) building, the National Aquarium runs a little-known lab. Here we carry out the propagation of jellies, many of which later end up on exhibit in Jellies Invasion. Read on for a peek into the process!

Read the full story

Cold stunned turtle Cold Stunning: Where, How and Why?

Picture this: You’ve just spent a wonderful, late summer week on Cape Cod, swimming in the ocean and enjoying the sunshine with friends and family. As fall sets in, you know it’s time to head home. You get on the highway, but something strange happens … despite driving for hours, you end up back where you started. You feel sluggish, confused and exhausted. If you were a turtle, you just might be cold-stunned.

Read the full story

Related Stories

Terrapins in the Classroom: Release at Poplar Island

Published May 22, 2019

End of Year Roundup: Baby Animals

Published December 06, 2018