By Lauren Casey


STONE HARBOR, N.J. (CBS) — You don’t need to go to some far-off location to have incredible biodiversity, you can find it at The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor.

The Wetlands Institute is nestled inside 6,000 acres of salt marsh, a critical part of a healthy coastline. The wetlands filter pollution, buffer beaches from erosion, and nourish wildlife.

“The animals tend to be like fiddler crabs, mummichogs, Atlantic silversides,” said Jamie Warner, manager of advancement for The Wetlands Institute.

For 50 years, the nonprofit has celebrated and preserved that precious ecosystem, including putting up poles to attract osprey.

“We have three fledglings out on that stand right now. They’re just learning how to fly,” Warner said. “I mean, they’re just amazing.”

Some creatures need a little more help, like the day-old diamondback terrapin hatchlings, crawling in sand-filled “egg boxes” which are about the size of a shoebox.

Hundreds of female diamondback terrapins lose their lives on the roadways during spring and summer nesting season, so the institute rescues as many terrapin eggs as it can find.

“It takes them about 60 to 70 days to emerge,” research scientist Brian Williamson said. “Once they have emerged, we put them in these egg boxes. During this time in the wild, they would still be in their nests. We’re kind of trying to replicate that.”

Once they’re about a year old, the diamondback terrapins will be released back into the wild.

At the Terrapin Station, people can say “hi” and greet them in person.

Although you can’t take one home, you can “adopt” one online and help fund its care.

The Wetlands Institute’s aquarium is one of the favorite draws.

Watch the video above for the full interview.