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Turtles and terrapin aquaculture

by the Fish Site Editor
07 December 2006, at 12:00am

ILLINOIS - No member of the turtle tribe has enjoyed the fame and popularity the diamondback terrapin experienced during the period of our history that extended from the gay 90s to the roaring 20. (Incidentally, a terrapin is usually defined as an edible turtle found in water; a tortoise is a turtle found on land; a turtle being either one or the other).


Photo courtesy of www.uga.edu. Male diamondback terrapin turtle caught in the the tidal salt marsh creeks.

This terrapin is called the diamondback because of the concentric rings within the raised plates on its back. It is unique in that it is the only turtle in the U.S. that can exist in the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. This animal is the official reptile of the State of Maryland and the beloved mascot of the state university.

During the last 100 years, the populations of diamondbacks along the East Coast have been on a roller-coaster ride, varying from almost being almost wiped out to scarce. The nadir of the terrapin’s numbers came in the late 1920s when it was said that no champagne dinner was complete without diamondback terrapin being one of the delicacies served.

Diamond Jim Brady was said to be fonder of terrapin than he was of oysters, and I imagine the dinner parties this noted gourmand hosted put a significant dent in the terrapin population. The demand for the reptile was so great during this period that a dozen of them in the 7 to 8 inch category sold for about $100. One gourmand of the era referred to the diamondback as “the scintillating gem in the dietary of the elite. These animals not being intended for the vulgar palate.”

Source: The Rock River Times

the Fish Site Editor