Juvenile turtles living in a storm drain might sound like a children’s cartoon, but it turns out, the creators of the Ninja Turtles might not have been that far off, aside from the martial arts and pizza.
Just last month, hundreds of baby turtles were rescued from exactly that situation.
Stockton University of Galloway, New Jersey is familiar with turtle rescue.
They even have a campus Vivarium and Animal Lab focused on, among other things, turtle rehabilitation.
With today being #WorldTurtleDay, we wanted to give a shout-out to John Rokita, a #StocktonU graduate and principal lab technician in Stockton's Animal Lab, and all of the students who have worked with injured and hatchling turtles. pic.twitter.com/r7nZ6kHU8x
— Stockton University (@Stockton_edu) May 23, 2019
The school has paid special attention to those animals which were endangered by New Jersey highways, warning motorists for years to keep an eye out for hatchlings.
Dr. Hernandez said that today is a big turtle day in South Jersey. Watch out for terrapins crossing coastal roads pic.twitter.com/Uua738mtBc
— Stockton University (@Stockton_edu) June 25, 2014
So the university was perfectly placed when some Good Samaritans and Alumna recently discovered baby Diamondback terrapin hatchlings trapped in storm drains in Ocean City and Margate, New Jersey.
According to the Stockton University Facebook Page, the two women in Ocean City, Marlene Galdi and Joanne Freas, were on the lookout for distressed terrapins when they spotted the babies in the storm drain.
The pair quickly improvised a special net to fish the turtles out.
They crafted a custom scooper from a telescopic aquarium net attached to a bamboo pole and are pleased with how their invention works.
They enrolled their rescued terrapins in a head start program at the Stockton Vivarium where they will receive care from John Rokita and his staff.
Stockton alumna Evelyn Kidd also has a trapped terrapin rescue operation going on, even training the kids in her neighborhood to help with finding and rescuing the little creatures.
In total, 826 baby Diamondback terrapins were rescued.
They were enrolled in Stockton’s Head Start program, for care and rehabilitation, ahead of being released back to the wild.
Hatchlings spend about a year at Stockton under optimum growing conditions to give them a head start prior to being released back into the wild.
A head-started terrapin is 2-3 times larger than a wild terrapin of the same age.
As of May 5, Stockton had 1,108 terrapins under their care.
— Stockton University (@Stockton_edu) May 7, 2021
Back in 2020 they were able to release some of the very same species back into the wild where they belong.
Thanks to @6abcmatteo for following a group of Diamondback Terrapins from #StocktonU's Vivarium to the saltmarsh to document the release of rehabilitated and head-started turtles. https://t.co/xctcFBCQzv
— Stockton University (@Stockton_edu) October 5, 2020
Not only did the little terrapins make the news, they were featured on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
View this post on Instagram
I love a story with a happy ending, don’t you? And I’ll certainly never pass by another storm drain without looking down.
What did you think of the university’s efforts to save the turtles? Let us know in the comments!