Field School: Hatching Diamondback Terrapins


3 classes (show schedule)
Fri, Sep 08, 2023
3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Sat, Sep 09, 2023
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun, Sep 10, 2023
8:00 am - 5:00 pm


Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, South Wellfleet


Bob Prescott - Sanctuary Director Emeritus, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary






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

Hatching Diamondback Terrapins
A Cape Cod Field School for Adults
3-day course
This course is designed to offer unique opportunities to learn more about the turtles of Cape Cod with an emphasis on the threatened diamondback terrapin. In early summer, female diamondback terrapins leave the salt marsh to lay eggs in adjacent uplands. Several months later tiny turtles emerge from their eggshells, tunnel to the surface, and head to the marsh.
For over 30 years we have been studying the populations of terrapins in Wellfleet Bay. Through nesting surveys, mark and recapture studies, radio telemetry, and habitat and prey analysis, we have built a solid foundation of data to begin understanding the life histories of these animals and the human impacts affecting them.
During this three-day weekend you will gain first-hand knowledge of turtle biology; monitor nests for hatching activity; weigh, measure, and release hatchlings; and document nesting success at various Outer Cape locations. We will also enjoy a boat trip into Cape Cod Bay to gain an off-shore perspective on terrapin habitat and learn about a project studying the wintering behavior of terrapins, and how that information can be used to guide the management of Wellfleet Harbor.
Indoor presentations will complement our field studies. A lecture on the first evening will provide a good overview of diamondback terrapins and their natural history. On the second afternoon there will be a lecture focusing on research conducted to study hatchling movements using radio tags, and an update on nesting statistics in our region.
Course includes dinner on the first evening. Sanctuary housing is not available; please contact us for a list of local accommodations.

*Please note: the hours listed above are a general outline for all Field School courses. Individual course schedules may be different based on tides, staff, optimal wildlife sightings, and other variables. The schedule with actual times will be prepared and sent out to registrants approximately 3-4 weeks in advance.
Instructors: Bob Prescott is the director of the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary where he has been actively involved in coastal issues and research. Bob has a degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts and has studied such diverse topics as whale strandings, harbor seal distribution around Cape Cod, and, most recently, home range of box turtles. Bob also is the Southeastern Massachusetts coordinator for the Northeast Sea Turtle Stranding Network.
Barbara Brennessel is a biologist who teaches at Wheaton College in Norton, MA. She spends her summers in Wellfleet and has developed a strong interest in the organisms that inhabit Cape Cod ecosystems. She has written about diamondback terrapins (Diamonds in the Marsh: A Natural History of the Diamondback Terrapin, 2006) and shellfish aquaculture (Good Tidings: The History and Ecology of Shellfish Farming in the Northeast, 2008).

Instructions and Directions:

Advance registration is required and is accepted on-line, over the phone, or through the mail. Payment in full is due upon registration. Upon registration you will receive a confirmation letter, then 3-4 weeks in advance of your course you will receive an email with detailed information related to the class.

Due to COVID protocols, participants will need to provide their own transportation to field trip locations around the Cape.

Cancellations must be received in writing (via email or regular mail) 30 days before starting date to receive a full refund (less a $50 nonrefundable administration fee per registrant).

Cancellation received less than 30 days before starting date may result in forfeit of entire course fee. If we can fill your spot with another registration then your balance is returned, less the $50 nonrefundable administration fee. The sanctuary reserves the right to cancel any course with a full refund to registrants.

For a complete listing of Field School courses visit

Registration is required.

Meeting Place:

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
291 US-6
South Wellfleet, MA 02663
Email [email protected] for more information.