As you may have read on our Team Terrapin website or heard on one of our Fish Fry guided hikes, diamondback terrapins face many threats to their survival. One of the most serious hazards facing adult terrapins in our region is crab trap bycatch. Terrapins are often attracted to crab traps because of the presence of a food resource, or even other terrapins, but are unable to leave the trap once they are inside. If the trap is not checked very frequently, those terrapins will drown, as they must come to the water’s surface to breathe.
Fortunately, if you use crab traps, there is a simple and free way to minimize the potential danger for diamondback terrapins. Bycatch reduction devices, or BRDs, can be attached to the entrance to a crab trap to prevent diamondback terrapins from entering – and research has shown that BRDs do not reduce total crab catch!
BRDs are available free of charge at many bait shops in northeast Florida – visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website for a complete list. North Florida Land Trust also distributes BRDs at many outreach events; contact us if you are interested in acquiring some!