A crab pot found over the weekend in Ocean City contained a grim surprise. Rather than crabs, the pot contained 20 dead terrapins, the official state reptile of Maryland, that became trapped in the pot and ultimately drowned.

Marketing and development coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program Sandi Smith explained what happened.

"Terrapins are true land and water turtles, they spend a lot of time in water, but they still have to breathe," Smith said. "They also feed on similar foods as crabs, so they're attracted to the pots, and if those pots don't have a turtle excluder, they're likely to get trapped and drown."

A turtle excluder device, or TED, is a piece of equipment fitted to fishing nets and crab pots that allow turtles to escape from the nets in the event they are snagged. In a crab pot, a TED is a small plastic window, measuring 1 3/4 inches by 4 3/4 inches that allows legal-size crabs to enter the pot, while not allowing turtles to enter and get trapped. The crab pot found in Ocean City did not contain a TED.

Read the full story at the Delmarva Daily Times>>

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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