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GALLOWAY, N.J. – New Jersey volunteers are being hailed as heroes after they rescued more than 800 baby turtles from Jersey Shore storm drains.

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According to and the Cape May County Herald, Stockton University said its Vivarium is caring for 826 diamondback terrapin hatchlings that were pulled from storm drains in Ocean City, Ventnor and Margate in recent weeks. Staff will rehabilitate the turtles for about a year, then release them into the wild, the university said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

The turtles, which “hid from the winter temperatures underground in their nest chambers,” lived off their yolk sacs for months, according to the post. But the small hatchlings apparently encountered obstacles when they emerged in the spring – cracks in storm drains, the post read.

Volunteers Marlene Galdi and Joanne Freas saved the batch of terrapins in Ocean City, the university said.

“As we passed the storm drains, we noticed that there was activity in them,” Galdi said, according to the university. “When we looked closer, we saw that there were baby terrapins swimming in the storm drains.”

The duo removed the tiny reptiles with a scooper made from a bamboo pole and a telescopic aquarium net, the university said.

Meanwhile, Stockton alumna Evelyn Kidd, who began rescuing hatchlings from drains years ago, and a group of local children saved the terrapins in Ventnor and Margate, according to the Facebook post.

The university said the Vivarium, which is caring for 1,108 terrapin hatchlings, is now full. For tips on what to do if you find a baby terrapin, click here.

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