Occurrence of the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys Terrapin Littoralis) at South Deer Island in Galveston Bay, Texas, April 2001-May 2002
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE WASHINGTON DC
Pagination or Media Count:
One-hundred thirty-five terrapins were captured 116 individuals, 19 recaptures in occurrence and nesting and basking surveys at South Deer Island in Galveston Bay, Texas, during April 2001-May 2002. Along the southern shore of the island, terrapins were captured in crab traps placed in shallow water offshore in the lagoon on the island, terrapins were captured by hand while walking along the shore. In the nesting and basking surveys, areas of the island with continuous patches of exposed shell typically were checked twice a day for nesting and basking terrapins, except during the last 2 months of the study, when more intensive monitoring was conducted. The occurrence surveys resulted in 119 terrapins captured in crab traps and nine captured by hand around the lagoon. The nesting and basking surveys yielded seven terrapins. Only one was nesting, although the nest is believed to be the first documented terrapin nest found in Texas. Three terrapins were captured swimming near shell beaches, and three more were captured basking on shell beaches. The most terrapins were captured during April-May 2001 and April-May 2002. Biometric data collected on terrapins captured showed size dimorphism on the basis of sex. The median female straight-line carapace length was 17.8 centimeters, 1.4 times larger than the median male carapace length, 13.1 centimeters. The median female mass was 1,021 grams, 2.9 times larger than the median male mass, 354 grams. Intra-specific variation occurred in the colorations and markings of terrapins captured. Anomalies,lesions, deformities, barnacles, and algae were common among terrapins captured. Both lesions and deformities were more common among males than females. Dominant vegetation or substrate associated with terrapin habitat included saltwort, slender seapurslane, seabeach orache, shell, and woody debris.