Mitchell Wilkerson from Moss Creek Golf and Grounds department watches as Jessica Kochman checks out Capt. Nemo, a Diamondback Terrapin. Kochman is the naturalist at Port Royal Sound Foundation, where Wilkerson took Capt. Nemo for safe-keeping.

When a Diamondback Terrapin came into the hands of the Golf and Grounds Department at Moss Creek, there was only one way to make sure the creature would survive.

As part of the Audubon Certification earned by Moss Creek, the department’s staff knew to call upon the experts. They then donated the terrapin, named Capt. Nemo, to the Port Royal Sound Foundation’s Maritime Center.

“It is our intent that sharing this unique species of turtle with the Lowcountry foundation will assist in educating and preserving this species existence,” according to a press release. “This particular turtle that came into our hands was captive bred and cannot be released into the wild. It now has a new mission: promoting awareness and educating visitors at the center.”

Jessica Kochman, a naturalist with the PRSF, said, “Diamondback Terrapins are a special type of turtle that are only found in salt marshes. The Lowcountry, which is abundant in salt marsh habitat, provides an excellent place for these turtles to live. At the Center, we have a variety of educational animals, including Captain Nemo, that visitors can interact with and learn why the Port Royal Sound area is so unique and needs to be cared after for all its inhabitants.”

Recent information about the Turtle Survival Act of South Carolina has made this opportunity even more valuable. As the awareness of the reduction in the natural wildlife in the area becomes more apparent it warrants our attention.

A variety of factors come into consideration, these occurrences are:  habitat loss, climate change, poaching, the pet trade, and available resources for food and water. Each of these in and of themselves would be a challenge; collectively they are overwhelming for the terrapins and other species survival.

Turtles are among the most endangered vertebrates on Earth: roughly half of the world’s 300 species are threatened with extinction. Many species will go extinct in the next decade unless drastic conservation measures are taken, according to the new report, issued by a coalition of conservation groups.

The Port Royal Sound Foundation is doing much-needed work by educating the public on local plant and wildlife present in this area. The Maritime Center continually hosts opportunities to educate and promote the wise use of the areas resources and how delicate the balance is between human and wildlife interaction and co-habitation.

Visit the Maritime Center to learn more about Captain Nemo and the other native wildlife species found in this area. Volunteers are needed and welcomed. 

The Maritime Center is located at 310 Okatie Highway in Okatie. For more information, call (843) 645-7774.