January 20, 2022

Manzanita School Provides Turtle Sanctuary—Sign Up to Help



Manzanita School Provides Turtle Sanctuary—Sign Up to Help

A pond turtle looks for water in Topanga Creek.

Many of you have touched base to see how our turtles are faring with the drought. Sadly, we have had continued mortality, with another six individuals preyed upon in just the last month when they were attacked in small pools with little water. This brings our total since August 2015 to more than 35 individuals, which represents almost 10 percent of the 300 individuals tagged in this sub drainage.

Thanks to support from Manzanita School and Cali-Camp, we have had the opportunity to set up a temporary turtle sanctuary for the summer. This pool is within the turtles' normal range within the drainage, is free from invasive species and best of all, we can get a hose to it! No more bucket brigades needed for the summer! Instead, we will be filling wheelbarrows so that we can off gas any chlorine and filling them from the hose.


Manzanita School Provides Turtle Sanctuary—Sign Up to Help

The protected turtle pond at Manzanita school.

Many of you are anxious to help, so this summer, instead of hauling water, please let me know if you would like to sign up to help check the water level and observe behavior. We have two motion detection cameras stationed to keep tabs, and will need help going through the images. Because this pond is within the camp/school area, we will need to carefully coordinate any visits. Let me know if you are interested and I will set up a schedule. We are temporarily moving all turtles that we find into this pond for the summer, and will be monitoring the water level/condition and providing supplemental food as needed. Please tell anyone who finds a turtle to contact us so that we can take care of them. When the rains return, we can let them all go back to their normal meanderings further upstream.

In the meantime, fencing should keep them in and discourage predators. If anyone has expertise in setting up a solar or battery powered electric fence, we might need to add that if the raccoons become a problem.

A recent rescue, Turtle #179, was found all the way up Topanga Skyline Road and thankfully brought to us.

He was a turtle we first tagged as a hatchling in 2004. Now he is safe—for the summer anyway.

Thank you all for your continued concern and assistance with our efforts to keep this small, precious population going. The funds provided by former Supervisor Yaroslavsky have really helped, but it is you volunteers who make it happen.

We at the Resource Conservation District are grateful.

To contact the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, the office is now located at 540 South Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga CA 90290 (next to Topanga Lumber); (818) 597-8627; info@rcdsmm.org.