Monitoring Southwestern Pond Turtle Populations at the UCI San Joaquin Marsh

credit Cesar Penzaloa
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The southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida) is the only native freshwater turtle on the West Coast, with the southern population now recognized as a distinct species of what was once broadly the western pond turtle. Due to habitat loss and other threats, the state of California recognizes the turtle as a species of special concern, and it is currently under consideration for listing at the federal level. Here in Orange County, the largest population of southwestern pond turtles is in the UCI San Joaquin Marsh, yet the population has not been censused since a thesis project by then master’s student Barry Nerhus in 2012. This student project aims to build turtle monitoring traps to catch and count southwestern pond turtles at the UCI San Joaquin Marsh, and lead a turtle walk for members of the public to learn about and observe these unique reptiles!