With elaborate shell patterns, spotted skin and a mouth that curves upward in an ever-present smile, the diamondback terrapin is the charismatic state reptile of Maryland and can be found in the saltwater marshes of the eastern and southern United States. These turtles were once considered a delicacy until they were hunted to near extinction in the last century. It is now listed as endangered, threatened, or a species of concern in a number of states.
Because diamondback terrapins are found only in brackish, coastal marshes, their habitat is extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels. The marshes can tolerate minor changes in tidal activity but would not be able to survive drastic changes in salinity. As global warming causes sea levels to rise, the terrapins’ coastal marshes could disappear, endangering the survival of this beautiful turtle species.
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