This is the first post in our new "Turtle Tuesday" series. Check back next Tuesday for more turtle-tastic updates.
Currently recognized as a “species of special concern” by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CADFW), the western pond turtle (WPT) has been placed under review for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.
Over the next year, biologists and other CADFW officials will observe the status of the WPT to determine if impacts to the species warrant protection under the ESA. The CADFW observations will include populations of these special turtles from around Marin, including MMWD's Mt. Tamalpais Watershed.
Western pond turtles can be found as far north as western Washington, and as far south as Baja California. While they are called “pond” turtles, the WPT can also be found in rivers and on land.
The turtles seem to like to travel on all kinds of terrain – as demonstrated by infamous Turtle No. 9 who traveled from Phoenix Lake near Ross in 2004 all the way to Point Reyes Station where it was found in a fish trap in 2011. MMWD aquatic ecologist Eric Ettlinger first marked Turtle No. 9 back in 2004, making it possible to track No. 9’s epic journey.
After the year review by the CADFW is complete and a finding has been made, the WPT will either be protected under the ESA, unprotected, or will be wait listed for protection. MMWD will be keeping a close eye on the findings, and will continue to observe the WPT on Mt. Tam.