Biology Sophomore Chases Turtles in Jamaica Bay

September 09, 2018
  • Biology major Lesly Castillo '21
  • Jamaica Bay terrapin
  • Jamaica Bay terrapin
Lesly Castillo ’21 spent her summer studying terrapins in New York City’s Jamaica Bay.

The population of diamondback terrapins in Jamaica Bay has diminished by more than half in the last decade, and scientists are searching for the cause of the decline. Lesly Castillo, a sophomore Biology major, spent her summer researching this turtle population, in an opportunity arranged by Prof. Ann Aguanno.

Lesly reports: “During this summer I had the opportunity to go to Jamaica Bay and help Professor Russell L. Burke from Hofstra University collect data on the terrapins when they came to the bay, dug their nests, and laid their eggs. It was an exciting experience chasing a turtle, I didn’t think they could actually run as fast as they did. The data collected from the terrapins included their size measurements as well as the patterns on their shell that helped identify their age and whether they had already laid their eggs or not. We also had the duty of taking care of the nests to protect them from predators such as raccoons. I hope to chase after turtles again next year!”