The Tasmanian Tiger and the Terrapin

Why do people care about the Tasmanian Tiger? Partly, because it has a cool name. And partly, because it is gone. There is something so final about extinction, and so guilt-inducing. Last week, extinction was back in the news… as word came from Australia that the Tasmanian Tiger – previously thought extinct – might actually still be alive. If that turns out to be true, then the Tasmanian Tiger was never extinct. Instead it was extirpated, or locally extinct.

Which is what happened, here in Long Island Sound to one of our key creatures: the Diamondback Terrapin. We humans killed them off (hunted to satisfy the appetite for turtle soup) and by the 1930’s there were no Terrapins left in the Sound. But, with changes in regulations (no more hunting allowed…) the Terrapins have returned. They are reclusive creatures and hard to spot in the wild. But an easy place to see and learn more about this amazing (formerly extirpated) species is here at our Coastal Education Center and our new Terrapin Sanctuary. No one is really sure about the Tasmanian Tiger, but the Diamondback Terrapins are back and they are thriving!