The Landings on Skidaway Island is one of the nation’s finest communities. Not only because of the many amenities and activities it offers its residents, or because of its close proximity to the glorious city of Savannah. The Landings is also focused on protecting the environment. In fact, all six golf courses have been certified as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries, and The Landings is home to more than 230 species of birds.
Another initiative Landings residents have taken on is saving the diamondback terrapin turtles. It started back in 2003 when resident Carolyn McInerney spotted a female terrapin sashaying across the green on the Plantation golf course. After safely traversing the green, the terrapin gracefully dropped over the edge of the first cut and went head first into the greenside bunker. Twenty minutes later, after excavating a 10” deep hole and depositing her eggs, she reversed her route and disappeared into the spartina grass.
Within 24 hours, her nest was decimated by foraging raccoons.
Carolyn did some research on the web and contacted a few marine scientists including John ‘Crawfish’ Crawford, Naturalist at the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service. With support from ‘Crawfish’, she started retrieving terrapin nests from the bunkers before they could be destroyed by predators or golfers. In any given year she had between 40 and 70 nests on her front deck, where the nests were protected from the raccoons, crows, moles, golfers and maintenance machinery. Since her first sighting in 2003, and up through 2010, she had relocated, hatched and released well over 2000 baby terrapins into the western marsh.
The diamondback terrapin is considered “a species of concern” under the Endangered Species Act and is officially protected by several states. Until the 1930s, these turtles were hunted almost to extinction.
In 2010, The Landings Audubon group adopted Carolyn’s turtle project, and with the help of Mike Perham (Director of Golf Course and Grounds Maintenance) and Chris Steigelman (Plantation Course superintendent), nesting boxes were designed, built and placed on the third and eighth holes of the Plantation golf course. The eggs would be transferred to the nesting boxes, where Mother Nature would take care of the hatching and release process.
“I am very proud to be associated with the very successful conservation efforts of the volunteers of the Skidaway terrapin hatchery,” said Crawfish Crawford. “The staff and management of The Landings golf course and grounds are also to be commended. I look forward to being a part of their continued work in the conservation of this important species.”
With the help of volunteers in 2011, 687 Diamondback Terrapin eggs were recovered and relocated. The group is anxiously looking forward to the beginning of another nesting season in May of 2012.
The Landings is located on Skidaway Island, just 15 minutes from historic Savannah. The debt-free, Homeowner Association-owned community offers homes from $200,000 to $1 million+, and amenities including marinas, golf courses, a tennis center, fitness/wellness center, biking and walking trails, pools, clubhouses, playgrounds, dog park and more. If you would like more information about The Landings on Skidaway Island, voted “Best Neighborhood to Live In” by readers of Savannah Magazine, visit www.TheLandings.com, or call 800.841.7011.