The Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), is native to Southern California. They are typically found in aquatic habitats, such as marshes, ponds, lakes, and streams. They favor areas that contain large numbers of emergent logs or boulders where they will congregate to bask. Due to California’s summer months, some aquatic areas have dried up, forcing the species to either bury themselves in mud or vegetation or leave their habitat, spending days without water. These species have evolved and adapted to environmental changes by metabolizing slowly to effectively hibernate. California’s native pond turtle has been rapidly declining due to urban development and the increase of non-native pet turtles turned loose by their owners.
Barry Nerhus has been studying California’s native Western Pond Turtle since 2006. His research began at UCI, where he received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology. The species diminishing population inspired his undergraduate research and motived him to pursue his Masters in Biology at CSULB. Following his passion for conservation biology and restoration ecology led him to specialize in herpetology, become founder and operator of Institute for Conservation Research and Education and Endemic Environmental Services. He has conducted several endangered species surveys California Least Tern, Western Snowy Plover, Burrowing Owl, Marsh’s Sandwort, California Gnatcatcher, Light-Footed Clapper Rail, Arroyo Toad, Desert Tortoise, and Least Bell’s vireo. Mr. Nerhus also remains heavily involved with community efforts in restoration and conservation.