Every evening from spring through early fall diamondback terrapins congregate in the Old Slough just below Frank & Jude's deck. Lou Ann and I stopped by Thursday evening about 7 o'clock to watch. Eighteen to twenty turtles swam around, poking their noses above the surface, then venturing up onto the mudflats to snatch a morsel of food. (Take a look at Lou Ann's video of the turtles: http://louannhoman.blogspot.com/2012/07/a-video-glimpse-of-carolina-terrapins.html.)
Terrapins are considered a species of special concern by the state of North Carolina. Although once harvested for food (I have seen an antique island contraption believed to have been used for proguing for turtles), they are now protected.
In the interest of preserving a bit of island tradition, here is Mrs. Loui Dell Williams' stewed diamondback terrapin recipe:
"Remove shells from four terrapins,k pour boiling water over meat, skin and remove claws, cut off head.
"1/4 lb. salt pork cut in cubes, fried out in pot terrapins are to be cooked in. Add terrapin and eggs if any (of terrapin). 4 or 5 medium potatoes peeled and quartered, 1 onion cut up, salt and plenty of black pepper; 1 pod red pepper. Water to cover. Cook about 1 1/2 hours."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Hurricane House and the Hurricane Boards. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072112.htm.