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The diamondback terrapin is an elusive turtle to spot, but avid explorers in Tampa Bay may see them often.
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is asking anyone in the Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas to record terrapin sightings and send them to Heinrich Ecological Services. Along with photo or video evidence of the tiny turtles, the program asks that turtle trackers send GPS coordinates of their find.
“GPS coordinates can be captured by using your preferred navigation app and placing a pin at the location of the sighting. Be sure that the pin is saved so you can reference the coordinates in your email to the folks at Heinrich Ecological Services,” TBEP wrote in a press release.
According to the National Park Service, these yellow-spottted terrapins are the only turtle species that naturally live in costal estuaries. You may spot one while kayaking, or exploring a mangrove.
TBEP Executive Director Ed Sherwood said interested tracking participants can look for turtles anywhere in the Tampa Bay watershed. That includes areas such as Weedon Island Preserve, Clam Bayou, and Indian Rocks Nature Preserve.
“The diamondbacks are important because they are unique to the estuary ecosystem and they are under threat,” Sherwood said.