Barrington Terrapin Conservation Project

Since 1990, a community-based, citizen scientist volunteer group has been studying the population of the Diamondback Terrapin in Barrington.

The terrapin finds its home in the brackish coves, lagoons, and marshes along the eastern seaboard from Cape Cod to Louisiana. The population study was developed to protect this state-endangered reptile’s nesting grounds and to maintain a healthy population of the terrapin in the marshes.

Advisors from the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) provide herpetology guidance for this project. Since 2004 the project has been part of the Diamondback Terrapin Working Group, which promotes the conservation of the Diamondback Terrapin.

A Scientific Collector’s Permit, issued by the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife, allows project volunteers to examine each individual terrapin, collect data, mark the marginal scutes, obtain photographs of the plastron and carapace, and insert Passive Intergraded Transformers (PIT tags) for future identification.

Volunteer and Intern Opportunities

Volunteers are needed each season for nesting and hatchling emergence. If interested, please email Kathryn Beauchamp, project co-leader, or cal 401-523-6441.

Turtles on the Hill: The Movie

Turtles on the Hill is a love story about a population of rare turtles, the dedicated community conservation group, and the changing coastal landscapes that they share. Over one year in a suburban Rhode Island wildlife refuge, a young woman scientist joins this community to reveal how—despite the existential threats of coastal development, predation, and sea level rise—the lives of the people, the diamondback terrapins, and the estuary are inextricably intertwined.

The movie is written and directed by Carolyn Decker. Produced & edited by Jason Jaacks. It is a Splitframe Media production produced in partnership with the Science & Story Lab at the University of Rhode Island.

Watch the Movie


Terrapins: A Conservation Story
The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program features the work of the Barrington Terrapin Conservation Project, which has been monitoring and protecting Diamondback Terrapins since 1990.

Post-emergence movements and habitat use by hatchling diamondback terrapins.
Decker, C. E., Buchanan, S. W., and Karraker, N. E. 2022. Post-emergence movements and habitat use by hatchling diamondback terrapins. Journal of Wildlife Management e22343.

Turtle Poaching: Global Criminal Enterprise with Local Ties
Carini, Frank. 14 November 2022. Turtle poaching: Global criminal enterprise with local ties. ecoRI News. Wildlife and Nature.

McLeish, Todd. The Turtle Women of Barrington. Published in Rhode Island Monthly, June 2021. (Book)

Diamonds in the Marsh: A Natural History of the Diamondback Terrapin. Brennessel, Barbara. 2006. University Press of New England.

Join Forces to Combat Turtle Poaching, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service