Blog Post 5: 8/26/2016 – Coming to a Close: Marsh Deep and Turtle Happy – Hunting Island State Park

Hi everyone,

Though I still have another week of research, I’m on the tail end of my journey and I wanted to leave you with some concluding remarks. If daily crab trap numbers continue with a similar pattern, we’re looking at over 500 blue crabs … that’s a lot of crabs, majority of which are male. You could count the number of females on one hand. Without taking a close look at the data (not yet a complete set) my initial speculation and observation from hauling them out and measuring each day is that crab pots without a BRD (the control) catches the largest (in terms of width), and the most number wise in a single pot. Those fitted with the VA BRD and SC BRD seem comparable in terms of number of crabs caught, though the VA BRD takes the (crab)cake in terms of size. Because we don’t yet have a full data set, I can’t say for sure, but as we originally hypothesized that the Virginia BRD will keep out the most turtles while allowing the largest blue crabs and so as not to hurt the crabbing industry, I think this will follow through.

Both fortunately (for the turtles) and unfortunately (for research purposes), we have not caught any Terrapins. I suppose the BRDs are doing their jobs then. I also speculate that a lot times when turtles are caught, captured, and drowned, it’s because commercial crab pots are left out for hours and hours or days and days at a time.

Dr. Chambers has kept me in the dark in terms of the data that the reciprocal team back at William and Mary has unearthed (for the sake of keeping me unbiased), so I look forward to learning those details.

No one has ever done what we’ve done here this summer, this reciprocal experimentation, and I am excited to see the results to the end, including further research, potential publication, and ultimately conservation.

I can say that I’ve sweat for many hours, under a hot sun, in one of the most beautiful state parks this country has to offer, doing my part to help Mother Nature. It has been one of the most, if not the most, rewarding experience I’ve had in my twenty years of living, in terms of learning, frustration, and the very fact that a lot of time research isn’t all “eureka” moments, and it takes a thousand projects like mine to move an inch in the right direction. But that direction has always been, and will continue be toward the preservation of our planet.

As I return to St. Andrews for my third year, I’m eager to see what the future holds for me and the turtles. Perhaps next summer I’ll be somewhere else, working on the similar project, to help the turtles I care for so dearly.

Now to find something to do with these crab traps…

Your friend,



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  1. nenewberry says:

    Beautiful photos, Peter! It looks like an amazing time out there. Just a quick (maybe too simple of a) question, but is the only rationale for the smaller BRDs to exclude more terrapins or are there any other organisms involved. Also, with the data you have it seems as though it is impossible to prove that the BRDs are important enough for the terrapins to necessitate a change in policy (with zero captures). So, how might you plan on convincing industry regulators of the need for these BRDs when your data may only show that BRDs exclude crabs and not turtles?