As of yet, none of the turtles have been reported to be ninjas.
For many people, the idea of finding something living in a storm drain only conjures up images of killer clowns. But for various volunteers up and down the New Jersey shore, movement in a storm drain usually means something different: turtle babies.
Over the past several days, volunteers have collected just a shade more than 800 baby terrapin turtles from drains across several oceanside communities, WPXI reports. They’ve rescued the little critters who have fallen between the gaps in storm drains while trying to make their way across the streets that lay between the ocean and their nesting chambers further inland.
The babies stayed inside their nesting chambers to wait out the colder winter months, subsisting on their yolk sacs, which is probably just as delicious as it sounds. Once the warmer spring weather sprung, however, the tiny turtles—which Stockton University’s Facebook post described as being roughly the size of a quarter—began to make their way toward the ocean.
Pulled from the communities of Ocean City, Ventnor, and Margate, the 816 babies have joined the more than 200 turtle babies who were already being taken care of at Stockton University’s vivarium in Galloway Township. There, the babies will be monitored and cared for over the course of the next year before being released into the ocean. The university says that a terrapin given this “head start” in optimum growing conditions will be two or three times larger than a similarly aged wild turtle, giving them a higher chance at long-term survival and hopefully helping to keep populations high.
But for now, the university says its vivarium is full and that the 1,108 turtles currently under its care will enjoy a predator-free first year of life while being given nutritious food, regular checkups and, presumably, the martial arts training they will all need in their teen years.