Volunteer Turtle Observers
|Western pond turtle sunning himself.
The western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata) is a federally listed "vulnerable species." These are the only fresh water turtles native to California, and they can be found around Phoenix, Lagunitas and Alpine Lakes in the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed.
Did you know?
The western pond turtle has a life span of over 40 years.
During the winter, the turtles live in underground burrows in upland habitats.
In late spring, the females find a nesting site away from the water and lay eggs in a shallow hole that they cover with dirt. Nests and migrating turtles are highly susceptible to predators and unsuspecting hikers and bicyclists.
MMWD has enlisted the help of volunteers to protect this vulnerable animal by monitoring habitat conditions, recording their behavior and educating the public during the spring when they are most vulnerable. Volunteers have collected valuable data on native and non-native turtles that is helping to direct the management of these species.
Turtle Observer training is generally held once a year in the spring.
How did we do? 2012 Turtle Observer Program Results
We would like to thank our volunteers for their time and effort in helping monitor the turtles and educate the public. This season there were 11 participating volunteers, of the 35 trained, who made an overall 41 visits for a total of 76 hours of observations. 327 total turtles were cited: 26 western pond turtles, 38 red-eared sliders, 41 other non-natives, and 222 unknown. With these numbers, there are estimated to be 9 western pond turtles and 29 non-natives between all four sites.
Areas monitored were: 1) the dam and shoreline of Lake Lagunitas, 2) the shoreline of Alpine Lake along Bullfrog Trail, 3) Alpine Lake below Bon Tempe Dam, and 4) the shoreline of Phoenix Lake on Phoenix Lake Trail and Shafter Grade Road. Turtle observations were recorded from March through the first week of June. Our biologists also caught and removed six red-eared sliders from Alpine Lake, two of which were gravid (going to lay eggs). The turtles were given to a turtle sanctuary in the East Bay.
Click here for the Turtle Observer Program Report 2012.
Click here to see a wonderful poster to raise awareness about the western pond turtle made by Girl Scouts Halle, Marina and Savannah from Troop 31146, Marin del Centro Association, San Francisco Bay Area Council.
Click here to see our Facebook photo album of turtle observer training and more photos of western pond turtles.