Follow these baby western pond turtles, who are being fattened up and well-cared for at both the San Francisco Zoo and Oakland Zoo, to their new home in the Presidio’s Mountain Lake. Once polluted, the lake has been revitalized with clean water and soil, as well as native species like the western pond turtles — California’s only native aquatic turtle — who were reintroduced there in 2015. From KQED’s Deep Look:
these Olive Ridley Sea Turtle hatchlings scurry out to sea and these butterflies that drink turtle tears.
The turtles—which are the equivalent age of teenagers—are marble-colored, medium-sized and easy to see because they’re carrying an antenna and a small box on their shells. The radio transmitters allow scientists to keep track of the turtles’ location, said Nicholas Geist, a professor of biology at Sonoma State University who was involved in the turtles’ release.
The turtles haven’t been doing well in their native habitat in the western United States. In California, they’re a species of “special concern,” Geist said. This makes it illegal for people to capture them, keep them as pets or otherwise handle them…
“They’ve been pretty beat up by human intervention… Turtles are facing a global crisis,” said Geist. “There are only 300 species, and most of them are doing quite poorly.”
This makes the story of how these turtles made it back to a lake in the middle of San Francisco all the more meaningful.