The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is researching the diamondback terrapin turtle, whose habitat is likely to be inundated as the sea rises. Photo by Christina Mohrmann/Grand Bay NERR.
Photos: Terrapin photos on Flickr
The 10,216-acre Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge is under threat from the very thing that gives it life – the Gulf of Mexico and its changing sea levels.
The refuge rests in a low-lying coastal area across state lines between Biloxi, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama. Savannas cover the flatlands while bayous, marshes, and islands sprawl along the shoreline. Ospreys outnumber people.
The refuge is just inches above sea level. So is the adjoining Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, an 18,400-acre area funded by NOAA and administered by the State of Mississippi to promote estuarine research and education within the coastal zone.
It’s the home of the Mississippi diamondback terrapin, a feisty little water turtle that is slowly disappearing thanks to over-harvesting and habitat loss. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the terrapin as a species of concern, a sort of watch list for species in decline.