Field Study: The Diamondback Terrapins of Barnstable Great Marsh

July 31, 2023 (Monday) 9:00am-3:00pm


Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, Cummaquid


Seany Kortis - Adult Education Coordinator, Mass Audubon Cape Cod






Nonmembers can join today during checkout and take immediate advantage of member prices.

The Diamondback Terrapin is an elusive species of turtle, adapted to live in the brackish water of the salt marsh and each year, lay their nests throughout the sandy beaches nearby. Here in Massachusetts, at their northernmost range, the Diamondback Terrapin is listed as threatened, and faces many challenges on the path to the recovery of local populations.

During this day-long program, learn more about the life history of this fascinating species, the challenges they face, and how we can help protect these amazing creatures in the face of a changing planet. We will learn more about the Terrapin ‘headstart' program on the mid-Cape region and how it is helping to restore terrapin populations in the Barnstable Great Marsh.

The day will start at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary's new Discovery Center, where we will spend time learning in-depth the history and unique adaptations of the terrapin, the threats they face, and what conservation efforts are taking place across the region to help this threatened species. Following a brief lunch break, we will head to Sandy Neck Beach and investigate the vast marsh systems where these turtles live, bordering the edge of their nesting habitat along the immense sand dune systems of this barrier beach. Here, we will release two ‘headstart' Diamondback Terrapins back into the wild together, after having spent the winter in the care of Mass Audubon through the Town of Barnstable's terrapin headstart program. One the way to the release site, we will also search for nesting Terrapin activity along the Sandy Neck Marsh trail.

Instructor: Sean Kortis

Sean Kortis is the Adult Program Coordinator for Mass Audubon's Cape Region. Sean has a long history of working with Mass Audubon dating back to 2011. They previously worked for the organization as a Teacher Naturalist and spent several years as a technician for the Spadefoot Toad Restoration Project. Sean also spent the last 8 years working in the field of environmental conservation and protection as a Natural Resource Officer where they managed the study and protection of endangered species on Sandy Neck Beach in West Barnstable, including Diamondback Terrapins, Piping Plover, Least Tern and the Spadefoot Toad. Sean shares a passion for environmental learning, exploration and is working to better understand how our connection to nature can guide us towards a future of sustainable living in the face of a rapidly changing world in the face of climate change.

Instructions and Directions:

This program will meet at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary. Please check in at the Discovery Center when you arrive.
Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk several miles over uneven terrain and soft sand.

Directions to Long Pasture: Cross the Sagamore Bridge onto Cape Cod/Route 6 Mid-Cape Highway. Take exit 7. Turn right onto Willow Street. At end take a left onto Route 6A. About one mile take a right onto Bone Hill Road (you will see a small sign for Mass Audubon Long Pasture). Follow Bone Hill Road to the end where water is visible. Turn left into Long Pasture driveway (large white Sanctuary sign - 345 Bone Hill Rd.) Parking in the field to your left, and around the circular drive in front of the Visitor Center.

For the afternoon field session, we will travel to Sandy Neck Beach (425 Sandy Neck Road, West Barnstable, MA 02668): From Route 6A on the Sandwich/Barnstable line, take Sandy Neck Rd. to the park gatehouse. We will caravan to this location together after lunch.

Please note our cancellation policy: In order to receive a refund, you must notify us of your cancellation at least 7 days before the program begins. If we cancel the program, you will receive a full refund. We reserve the right to change programs, schedules, and instructors, and to cancel programs due to low enrollment or unfavorable weather.

Registration is required.

Meeting Place:

Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary
345 Bone Hill Road
Cummaquid, MA 02637
Email [email protected] for more information.