Bald Head Island Conservancy

Calling Volunteers: Terrapin Tally Returns to BHI

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by Dr. Beth Darrow, Chief Scientist

This spring the Bald Head Island Conservancy will be hosting the Terrapin Tally for the third year, in partnership with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and NC Coastal Reserve. The Terrapin Tally is a survey of our marsh creek habitat, searching for and counting these elusive brackish water turtles. Volunteer groups of 2 people share the duties in a tandem kayak, with one person steering through a predetermined route and the other person recording on a smartphone where they find terrapins. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors while assisting with wildlife conservation!

The Diamondback terrapin is a turtle species of special concern that lives in creeks and estuaries along the U.S. east coast. Bald Head Island has been designated as a Diamondback Terrapin Management Area due to terrapins being spotted in the area. We do not know where in our creeks terrapins are located or how many terrapins we have on the island, so these tallies will provide us with baseline information about our local terrapin population.

You MUST attend a training in order to participate in the tally. The dates for the trainings are: 

  • Virtual – April 11 @ 6-7:30pm
  • In-person, UNCW Center for Marine Science, Wilmington  – April 13 @ 6-7:30pm
  • In-person, Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium – April 15 @ 10-11:30am

Terrapin Tally Dates (you can sign up for one – or many!):

  • May 4-7
    • Thurs: 8-10am, Fri: 9-11 am, Sat: 9:30-11:30am, Sun: 10am-12pm
  • May 18-21
    • Thurs: 8-10am, Fri: 9-11am, Sat: 9:30-11:30am, Sun: 10am-12pm
  • June 1-4
    • Thurs: 7-9am, Fri: 7:30-9:30am, Sat: 8:30-10:30am, Sun: 9-11am

BHI volunteers must provide their own transportation to BHI and to the Tally site. BHIC can provide kayaks or volunteers may use their own. Paddle times above do not include transportation and set-up time. Sign-ups will become available at the trainings.

There are other Terrapin Tally sites throughout southeastern North Carolina – if you are off-island and want to find a site near you, just reach out and we can make a recommendation!

If interested in signing up for a training session, or if you have any questions, please email BHI Conservancy at

To learn more about the Terrapin Tally, visit


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