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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Oct 18

Meet a Western Pond Turtle-Saving Super Hero!

Posted on October 18, 2018 at 9:33 AM by Emma Detwiler

By Gabriela Guaiumi, Watershed Stewards Program Member 2018

The northern and southern Western Pond Turtles are the only native species of turtle in California. The northern western pond turtle, Actinemys marmorata, is found right here on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. In an effort to help protect this native species, we monitor the population with our Turtle Observer Program.

We also monitor non-native turtles we find on the watershed, the most common of which is the red-eared slider. These non-native turtles usually find their way on to the watershed as pets that have been released by their owners. While the owners may think they are doing the right thing by releasing their turtles in their “natural habitat” they are actually disrupting the pond turtles’ habitat and the ecosystem of the watershed.

Our Turtle Observer program would not be possible without dedicated volunteers, and we are so grateful to everyone who chose to donate their time. The volunteer who donated the most hours this year was a new volunteer, Andre. He is only 14 years old, and is extremely passionate about fish and turtles. In fact, his idea of fun is exploring different places to find and identify species. He was exploring the watershed even before he knew about our Turtle Observer program.

As a thank you for giving so much of his time to the Turtle Observer program, Andre joined me in taking the red-eared sliders from our “turtle jail” to the Sonoma County Reptile Rescue. We talked about animals for the entire drive up and back, and he was a delight to be around. He is intelligent, articulate, and his passion and curiosity are infectious.

Volunteers like Andre help keep the Mt. Tam watershed and the native species who call it home healthy and safe. Thank you, Andre, for your dedication!

 Andre Turtle  
 Andre and a red-eared slider he captured.

 Andre Turtle 2
 Andre placing a red-eared slider in the drop-off pond.

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