Waves lapped against the shore, an osprey flew overhead, warm sand squished between my toes, and all I thought was, “This is home.” The sights, the sounds, the smells -- they made me wonder what it was like for our terrapins to experience these things for the first time.

At Kent Narrows, the place their mother laid their eggs, we released our brood back into the wild. Our tender loving care allowed our three terrapins to grow five times larger than terps of a comparable age in the wild. They truly have a head start on life thanks to the Terrapin Institute’s program

Secchi was the first to be released. I set him down in the soft white sand and he took off instinctively towards the breaking waves. Without hesitation he swam through the cove and out into open water. After swimming about 10 yards he popped his little head out of the water and looked back at us standing on the shore. It was almost as if he was saying goodbye.

Skipjack was the next to go. Liana set this little lady down a few feet from the water. Skipjack swaggered her way into the waves. She swam in the cove for a few minutes before making her way through the breaking waves and into open water.

Finally it was Runoff’s turn. I sent her down in the sand, and she just sat there looking up at me. After some encouragement and a nudge in the right direction her feet finally hit the waters of the Chesapeake and she beelined it out of the cove.

We all stood on the beach, watching our little babies all grown up and out on their own. We scanned the water for their little heads popping out here and there looking back at us. It was goodbye for the last time.

Being a part of this program and raising our brood will have a positive impact on this beautiful species and the Chesapeake Bay. These terrapins made me recognize all the connections between the land, the water, the people and the critters that call the bay their home.

I left that morning feeling I was a part of something much greater than myself; I had made a true Chesapeake connection.

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