City Springs Students Raise "Lenny" the Terrapin
By City Springs Teacher Zachary Carey
This year 7th and 8th grade students at City Springs Elementary/Middle School had the opportunity to raise a Maryland diamondback terrapin in their classroom, and at the end of the year release it back to the island in the Chesapeake Bay where it was born.
Terrapins are a type of turtle that are native to the Chesapeake Bay and at one point populated the Bay at levels much higher than today. The opportunity to raise the terrapin was provided through the National Aquarium's Terrapins in the Classroom Program.
Students observed an organism from a local ecosystem, while also assisting in the effort to support the terrapin population in the Chesapeake. The program uses ongoing research conducted by Dr. Willem Roosenburg, associate professor of biology at Ohio University. Dr. Roosenburg is widely known as a national authority on terrapins, and is a leading voice in the conservation of the species.
We received our terrapin "Lenny" in September when the turtle was only several weeks old and weighed 7.8 grams. Over the course of the year students in our "Turtle Team" maintained the turtle environment, monitored the tank temperature, and fed the turtle. Turtle responsibilities became more exciting in January when the turtle began eating live food, including minnows and crickets.
The Turtle Team also developed an "Outreach Team" which created a presentation about the terrapin, it's environment, and students' responsibilities in the Turtle Team. The Outreach Team used this presentation and the turtle itself to introduce early learning students at City Springs to science.
As our program closed in June, Lenny weighed over 150 grams and was ready to be reunited with his natural environment. We released Lenny back to Poplar Island, an island in the Chesapeake Bay that is in the process of being rebuilt after many years of human influenced deterioration.
On the trip, students not only had the chance to take a boat ride out to the island but also participated in planting bay grasses on the island. The bay grass planting assisted with the rebuilding process on Poplar. The students were sad to see Lenny go, but really enjoyed the opportunity to help strengthen the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem (and we'll have another turtle next year!).
For more information about the terrapin program and Poplar Island, visit the National Aquarium and Maryland Environmental Service websites: