Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Heroes in a Half Shell at Calaveras Dam

We at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project are constantly reminded that our construction area is someone else’s home. Case in point: the Western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata). Our little heroes in the half shell are coming out of hibernation. A species of special concern in California, Western pond turtles prefer calm water with lots of things to bask on and plants to hide under.  They are opportunistic feeders and will eat pretty much anything they can reach and overpower, including aquatic plants, fishes, aquatic invertebrates and carrion if they can find it. They hibernate nearby in burrows or in upland areas until the temperature is nice, then they come out and head to the water to find food and mates.

Our construction workers spotted the first Western pond turtle of the season roaming on one of our haul roads. Given there are large vehicles (think trucks with wheels that are 9 feet tall), it was important to sweep this girl up and put her in a safe place away from the site. Our biological inspector Aaron Sunshine did just that at a pre-designated release site. On a daily basis, our environmental inspectors work closely with construction staff to identify any wildlife that enter the construction area. Our team works to protect the wildlife in the Watershed ensuring we keep these protected native species safe from harm while we build this important project.  

Maybe it was the luck of the Irish? Or just a good day for our Western pond turtle to be returned to a safe habitat. Aaron and his team will be keeping a sharp eye out! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Peek-a-boo: Western pond turtle (measured at 16 cm carapace length) safely relocated at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project by our project Environmental Monitor

Here is our Western pond turtle being released
safely back into the reservoir shoreline

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