Western Pond Turtle Links

Here is a collection of links to articles I’ve written about western pond turtles.

This “Western Pond Turtle” category menu also includes a variety of content published by other people, most of which involves turtles from my lab. Just continue scrolling down through this category page to see articles, images, and videos I’ve shared from other sources.

My Thesis Research

In these posts, I talk about my master’s thesis research into the nesting behavior and nest site selection of western pond turtles.

0DCBA54F-CA4B-4DB2-9FA0-3EB636DE7A3EEnd of Field Season (July 1, 2013)
7th World Congress of Herpetology (August 13, 2012)
Field Season: June 8 (June 8, 2012)
Emerging Baby Turtles (April 23, 2012)
Wildlife Society Western Section (February 2, 2012)
End of Field Season (July 3, 2011)
Turtle Release (June 30. 2011)
Field Season: June 29th (June 29, 2011)
Field Season: June 28th (June 28, 2011)
Field Season: June 23 (June 23, 2011)
Field Season: June 21st (June 21, 2011)
Field Season: Cobb Mountain (June 19, 2011)
Western Section Poster (February 1, 2011)
Turtle Research (December 9, 2010)
A Photo of Me (July 1, 2010)

Additional Turtle Posts By Me

These are posts I’ve written about western pond turtles that are not directly related to my own research. Most of them talk about our headstarting program, which I participated in by collecting, incubating, and hatching eggs, as well as regular data collection about the growth of hatchlings before their release back into the wild.

tumblr_m7e0r2rIFj1r5vtdno2_1280Tiny and Adorable Western Pond Turtles (September 11, 2013)
Turtles! (June 10, 2013)
Grumpyface (September 8, 2012)
Brand New Babies (September 5, 2012)
We Have a Baby! (September 2, 2012)
Soon, Very Soon . . . (August 31, 2012)
Baby Turtle Release (August 20, 2012)
Me and My BB! (August 17th, 2012)
201 (July 18th, 2012)
Baby Turtles (May 8, 2012)
Western Pond Turtle Hatchling (September 15, 2011)
Western Pond Turtle (drawn by me) (September 15, 2011)



Western Pond Turtles Being Reintroduced to Southern Marin Park Sites

Originally posted on the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Science and Learning Blog

The National Park Service has entered into a cooperative partnership with the San Francisco Zoo and Sonoma State University to reintroduce the western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata) to Muir Beach and to sites in the Rodeo Lagoon watershed where it once lived. Western pond turtle populations have declined dramatically throughout the State of California in recent decades, including in Marin County. The species was last seen at Muir Beach in the 1990s.


Western pond turtles being raised at the San Francisco Zoo will be reintroduced at Muir Beach and Rodeo Lagoon. Photo by Jessie Bushell, San Francisco Zoo.
Western pond turtles being raised at the San Francisco Zoo will be reintroduced at Muir Beach and Rodeo Lagoon. Photo by Jessie Bushell, San Francisco Zoo.


The reintroduction effort will use eggs collected from donor sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s north district lands, which are managed by Point Reyes National Seashore. They will join seven juvenile turtles already at the zoo—five from eggs from a female killed on a road in southern Marin and two from eggs salvaged from a predated nest at a donor site in Tomales Bay. The hatchling turtles will be reared for one to two years at the zoo before being released.

The effort to locate these donor sites led to the first comprehensive survey for western pond turtles in Point Reyes and Golden Gate’s north district lands. Concurrent research by Sonoma State University will help us learn more about western pond turtle nesting behavior in a coastal environment. Long-term monitoring at the release sites will also provide critical information on survivorship and management needs for this species in a semi-urban environment.

Contact Golden Gate National Recreation Area Aquatic Ecologist Darren Fong to learn more about this project.

Western Pond Turtle Reintroduction Begins

Originally posted on the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Science and Learning Blog

A program to reintroduce western pond turtles to sites at Golden Gate National Recreation Area from locations at Point Reyes National Seashore has launched! It will take place over the course of several years with the aim of reestablishing a self-sustaining turtle population in lower Redwood Creek, and possibly Rodeo Lagoon watershed. Recent National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (GGNPC) surveys have not found western pond turtles at sites where they were previously recorded in southern Marin County. The project is a collaborative effort between the two national parks, GGNPC, Sonoma State University, and the San Francisco Zoo.

Western pond turtle in hand with a solar powered radio transmitter on its shell


The first stage of the project involves collecting eggs just prior to their expected date of hatching so that their sex can be determined by natural environmental conditions. The eggs will then be transferred from Point Reyes to Sonoma State University. Upon hatching, the baby turtles will be brought to SF Zoo to be reared and released the following year. Discovering intact nests is no easy task, however.  Nest predation is high, so nests are protected on site through the use of exclosures. Biologists are employing radio telemetry, affixing radio transmitters to potentially reproductive female turtles in order to track them to their nesting locations. Twenty-one turtles were tracked in the spring, though each of the two intact nests discovered and processed so far were found by ground search. Twelve nests were discovered in total. Transmitters are now being removed and set aside for re-use in the fall and next spring, and additional remote sensing techniques are being explored for easier and more accurate detection of nesting.

The reintroduction program represents an important milestone for local western pond turtle conservation. The western pond turtle is the Pacific Coast’s only native freshwater turtle, and its numbers have been declining throughout most of its wide range. Contributing factors include habitat loss, degradation, and/or fragmentation, competition and predation from nonnative species, and many other threats dating back to the commercial harvesting of the species in the 19th century. Already a Species of Special Concern in California, the species is also under review by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act.

SAFE Western Pond Turtle Video

I might be biased, but this is a fantastic video about western pond turtles . . . the segment starting at 5:00 features the field site where I did my thesis research. The fellow being interviewed is my advisor, Nick Geist. And that’s your’s truly measuring the turtles in preparation to release them back into the lake. SO FAMOUS! 🙂

These Crazy Cute Turtles Want their Lake Back

Hey, these are MY turtles! (Well, not just mine, but these are Geist Lab turtles. So I guess I could call them OUR turtles).

“Boxed in by a freeway, a golf course and a neighborhood, it’s a miracle that San Francisco’s Mountain Lake even exists. But not only is the tiny lake—located on the south end of the city’s Presidio park—still there, it now provides one of the few places in San Francisco where visitors can watch California’s only native aquatic turtle bask in the sun.”

Read the rest of the article here: http://ww2.kqed.org/science/2016/01/26/these-crazy-cute-baby-turtles-want-their-lake-back/

At Mountain Lake, One Last Chance to See the Turtles Off


Another Bay Nature article featuring turtles from our lab. I’m quoted in this one! 

A Western pond turtle, ready for release into Mountain Lake. (Photo by Charity Vargas Photography, courtesy Presidio Trust)
A Western pond turtle, ready for release into Mountain Lake. (Photo by Charity Vargas Photography, courtesy Presidio Trust)

by on October 14, 2015


“This turtle release is symbolic of so much transformation,” said Michael Boland, chief of planning, projects, and programs at the Presidio Trust. Mountain Lake, he said, is not just about Mountain Lake, it’s about how the environment is managed: “Nature survives in cities because of people.”

Which, said Sonoma State lecturer Wendy St. John, is one reason the project has succeeded. People around the lake have rallied to its restoration. “This is their neighborhood, not just a touristy area,” St. John said. “It’s been a community effort.”

Read the rest of the article here: https://baynature.org/article/at-mountain-lake-one-last-chance-to-see-the-turtles-off/

Super Science Saturday – Mountain Lake

I was at this event, representing SSU. (As a matter of fact, that’s my son at the far left of the first photo, at the booth he and I were manning). Super cool!

“Last Saturday, over 200 people gathered at Mountain Lake for Super Science Saturday, a celebration of the reestablishment of native wildlife populations at the lake. The day was filled with fun activities like face painting, information booths, and turtle-related crafts. Highlights of the day included the second and final release of Western pond turtles into the lake and a talk by San Francisco Zoo‘s Jessie Bushell on the partnership between the Presidio Trust, Sonoma State University, and the SF Zoo that made the turtles’ return possible. Event attendees watch from the lake’s edge as Trust staff released 26 turtles. This group joins 28 other Western pond turtles released by the Trust in July. This threatened species is the only freshwater turtle native to California. Their release into Mountain Lake is a big boost to conservation efforts for these unique and beloved animals, and another big step in the ongoing restoration of the lake.”

Western Pond Turtle Archive

This is a collection of articles written about western pond turtles. The first section features articles about the headstarting project run by our lab in collaboration with both the Oakland and San Francisco zoos. The second section contains articles of a more general nature.

Headstarting Western Pond Turtles

1024x1024Bay Area Zoo and Sonoma State University to Release Westen Pond Turtles (National Geographic, August 17, 2012)

Oakland Zoo to Release Turtles to Wild (SFGate, August 9, 2012)

Miscellaneous Turtle Links

Western Pond Turtles Being Reintroduced to Southern Marin Park Sites (SFNPS, November 30, 2016).

Western Pond Turtle Reintroduction Begins (SFNPS, July 29, 2016)

SAFE Western Pond Turtle (I am in this video, briefly) (March 16, 2016)

Mountain Lake Reintroduction Archive

This is a collection of posts about the reintroduction of western pond turtles into the Presidio. My lab hatched these turtles, and another grad student in my lab is doing research at the lake. My involvement with this project was limited to egg collection and hatching the turtles who would later be released. I am, however, quoted in one of the articles.

goga-mountain_lake_presidio_trust_600The Western Pond Turtles in remediated Mountain Lake are doing well (Richmond District Blog, June 02, 2016)

Threatened Species Of Turtle Now Thriving Again In San Francisco’s Mountain Lake  (CBS SF Bay Area, May 31, 2016)

Native turtles growing steadily at SF’s Mountain Lake (San Francisco Examiner, May 31, 2016)

Why is there an antenna attached to this western pond turtle? (Mother Nature Network, January 27, 2016)

These Crazy Cute Turtles Want Their Lake Back (KQED, January 27, 2016)

At Mountain Lake, One Last Chance to See the Turtles Off (Bay Nature, October 14, 2015)

SSU Teams Up With Bay Area Zoos to Help Save Threatened Turtles (Sonoma State University, October 6, 2015)

Super Science Saturday – Mountain Lake (Presidio of San Francisco Facebook, September 16, 2015)

Presidio Trust Partners with SF Zoo and Sonoma State to Return Native Turtles to Mountain Lake (Presidio Trust press release, September 12, 2015)

Native Turtles Return to Mountain Lake (SFNPS, August 31, 2015)

After Decades Away, Western Pond Turtles Come Home to Mountain Lake (Bay Nature, July 28, 2015)

Turtles returned to their historic home at Mountain Lake (SFGate, July 20, 2015)

Scientists to perform first-of-its-kind study on turtles released into SF lake (San Francisco Examiner, July 16, 2015

Mountain Lake At Presidio Growing In Diversity With Recovery Of Stickleback Fish And Other Species (National Parks Traveler, April 13, 2015

Presidio Trust Releases First Native Species Into Mountain Lake (Presidio Trust press release, April 03, 2015)

Bottom Up at Mountain Lake (Bay Nature, January 30, 2015)

Ready, Set, Reintroduce! (SFNPS, January 29, 2015)

San Francisco’s Presidio Trust Killing Fish to Save a Lake (AllGov California, October 27, 2014)

California Lake Poisoned to Get Rid of Invasive Fish (Seeker, October 20, 2014)

Presidio Trust unveils plan to rid Mountain Lake of invasive fish (SFGate, October 18, 2014)

Lake Effects (National Geographic, April 7, 2014)

All of These Monster Invasive Fish Came Out of One Small San Francisco Lake (Bay Nature, March 20, 2014)

Bringing life back to Mountain Lake (Bay Nature, February 27, 2017)