Meet Our Education Ambassador "Alaska"
"Alaska" (pictured above) came to us through the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. The US Fish and Wildlife Service had received word that 210 turtles (6 species) were being exported out of the country to markets in Asia. There was no information on where they came from in the U.S., but they may have been captive and then hatched. These turtles could not be returned to the wild so the Anchorage Museum reached out to numerous organizations throughout the country in an effort to find them a home. Not all turtles made it as some were diseased and others too weak to survive. "Alaska" was nursed back to health in Anchorage and took a Delta Express flight down to Melbourne, Florida where she now resides at the Florida Institute of Technology Vero Beach Marine Lab. "Alaska" is doing very well in her 35 gallon tank, which includes a haul-out rock with a heat lamp and waterfall. Visitors to the lab get a chance to view "Alaska" and receive information on diamondback terrapins in Central Florida.
The scientific name for diamondback terrapins is Malaclemys terrapin, but there are many subspecies of this estuarine turtle found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S. In recent years, there has been increasing concern on the status of terrapins as declines have been attributed to the pet trade, commercial harvest, incidental capture in crab fisheries and habitat loss. Read more about the federal and international status of diamondback terrapins and a report on terrapin monitoring near Crystal River Florida.