The Western Pond Turtle (Emys marmorata) is a freshwater turtle with shells averaging between seven and nine inches in length and can be recognized by their yellow stomachs and black spots and lines on their heads. Though these turtles could once be found all the way from Canada down to Baja, California, the number of Western Pond Turtles has significantly decreased over the years and populations can now be found mostly in southern Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada.
With populations having decreased as much as 80% in some areas, Western Pond Turtles have been deemed a “species of special concern” in California. The largest threat has been the alteration of their natural habitats from projects like wetland drainage and dam construction that have changed, or altogether removed, their aquatic habitats. Aside from habitat alteration, another major threat to Western Pond Turtle populations are non-native or competing species. One of IRC’s main tasks with the Shady Canyon pond has been trying to contain the invasive African clawed frog population and prevent them from taking over the turtles’ habitat and dominating the resources needed for survival.
To learn more about ongoing habitat restoration and enhancement efforts throughout the Landmarks, visit IRConservancy.org, LetsGoOutside.org or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.