Conservation & Research

A collaborative conservation effort between Georgia Aquarium staff and the Southern Conservation Trust resulted in a record box turtle nesting season at The Ridge Nature Preserve.

This extraordinary partnership set out to protect the delicate box turtle nests within The Ridge Nature Preserve and gather data to better understand the substantial box turtle population in the area. The results have been nothing short of spectacular. With a total of 23 box turtle nests safeguarded throughout the nesting season. The success of this collaboration demonstrates the power of teamwork and a shared commitment to preserving this remarkable species.

The highlight of this year’s endeavor is the remarkable success in hatching. More than 40 hatchlings have resulted from this collaborative effort, marking a significant increase in the box turtle population within the region. Nesting season for box turtles generally starts in the spring and concludes with hatching in the fall. Last year, 12 nests were protected in The Ridge Nature Area, with nine hatchlings. The dense population of box turtles in one area is significant. The data collected from this population will provide insight into the local environment’s health and aid researchers in determining practices to help conserve this species in other areas.

Box turtles benefit greatly from protected areas – which maintain natural habitats and protect them from predators, visitors, and vehicles. However, habitat loss, traffic incidents, and collection for the pet trade are all factors that can contribute to species decline. Georgia prohibits Eastern Box Turtles from being taken as pets because they are considered vulnerable on the IUCN red list.

If you come across a box turtle, do not disturb them unless removing them from the road. Box turtles have a homing instinct which gives them the ability to navigate to a “home base” despite being in an unfamiliar area. Box Turtles will wander continuously until they reach their home base if they become separated from it.

The partners hope to continue this success in the coming years. The success of the 2023 box turtle nesting season is not only a testament to the hard work and dedication of the individuals involved but also a celebration of the vibrant and diverse ecosystem that The Ridge Nature Area sustains.


For more information on this exciting project, view our video.


Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Ga. that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care, and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate, and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its engaging exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its eight major galleries.

About The Ridge Nature Preserve:

The 308-acre Ridge Nature Area located in Fayetteville, GA, houses many miles of well-marked trails offer guests hiking, mountain biking, and creek overlook opportunities. Countless species of flora and fauna make The Ridge their habitat. The Ridge Nature Area is becoming known as one of the most biodiverse nature areas in the State of Georgia, and it is home to the Eastern Box Turtle Research in partnership with Georgia Aquarium . The Ridge Nature Area is owned by the City of Fayetteville and proudly managed by Southern Conservation Trust.

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