Terrapin May Shed Unofficial Status

March 08, 1994|By John A. Morris BTC | John A. Morris BTC,Sun Staff Writer

The Senate voted 45-1 last night to elevate the Maryland diamondback terrapin to be the official state reptile and mascot of the University of Maryland College Park.

The fighting turtle, which is indigenous to the Chesapeake Bay, has been the College Park campus' unofficial mascot since 1933.

The Senate approved the measure without debate and sent it to the House.

The lone dissenting vote came from Senate Minority Leader John A. Cade, an Anne Arundel County Republican.

The bill was introduced by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Prince George's Democrat who is one of the legislature's most vocal supporters of the University of Maryland, his alma mater. Officials and student leaders from the College Park campus and the Prince George's County Council support the bill.

In addition to specifying a state flag, seal and song, lawmakers over the past century have adopted a number of species of plant and animal life as official symbols.

The legislature designated the Baltimore oriole the state bird in 1947, the black-eyed Susan the state flower in 1918 and the Chesapeake Bay retriever the state dog in 1964.

The striped bass, or rockfish, became a part of the family of official symbols for Maryland in 1965 when it was named the state fish.

The 1980s saw the adoption of the blue crab as the state crustacean, the skipjack as the state boat, and the shell of the Ecphora quadricostata -- an extinct snail that inhabited the bay 5 million years ago -- as the state fossil shell.

For several years, lacrosse enthusiasts unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers to have lacrosse supplant jousting as the state sport. Duckpin bowlers also have sought unsuccessfully to have their pastime named the state's official indoor sport.

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