Rare juvenile native turtle

western-pond-turtle_small

The Western Pond Turtle or Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) is the only native turtle that lives in northern and central California. It ranges from Washington to Baja California. Once a common sight along most low elevation ponds and streams, the Western Pond Turtle is quietly disappearing from the California landscape. Over 90 percent of the freshwater ponds, marshes, and year-round streams where the turtles once lived have been drained, diverted, or developed. The subspecies Southern Pacific Pond Turtle (pictured here in a Central Valley river) is in decline across most of its range. They were once very abundant in the southern San Joaquin Valley, with population estimates of over 3 million, but now they are rarely found. Loss of habitat due to urbanization and predation of hatchlings by non-native bullfrogs is the greatest threat. They are currently a California Endangered Species Act species of special concern.