Pacific Pond Turtle
Scientific Name: Actinemys marmorata
Other/Previous Names: Clemmys marmorata
Taxonomy Group: Reptiles
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2012
COSEWIC Status: Extirpated
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This species has not been observed in the Canadian wild in over 50 years.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Extirpated in May 2002. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2012.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Extirpated
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-01-12
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
Image of Pacific Pond Turtle
The name marmorata is derived from the latin word marmor, which means "marble". It describes the marble patterning on the carapace (dorsal shell) of this medium-sized turtle. In both adults and young, the carapace is olive, dark brown, or black with varying degrees of mottling. The plastron (ventral shell) is yellowish with dark blotches, and the skin colour is grey. Unlike many turtle species, male and female Pacific Pond Turtles are similar in size; the carapace of adults is 9 to 18 cm long. Young turtles have a rough carapace, while adults have a smooth one and a relatively longer tail.
Distribution and Population
The Pacific Pond Turtle is at risk throughout its range. Historically, this species occurred along the west coast of North America from southern British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico, and inland to Nevada. Currently, the main distribution of this species is in coastal California and Baja California, with isolated inland populations. The Pacific Pond Turtle was common in the ponds and lakes of southern British Columbia and Vancouver Island in the mid-1800s, but no sightings have been recorded in Canada since 1959.
The Pacific Pond Turtle is found in slow-moving streams, large rivers, sloughs, and occasionally in brackish water. It is found in water bodies with rocky as well as muddy bottoms and prefers areas with emergent vegetation. It requires deep pools with large woody debris to provide refuges from predators. The Pacific Pond Turtle experiences seasonal drought in portions of its range, and can apparently survive by migrating to persisting pools and estivating (laying dormant) in the mud. Nest sites are in dry, open areas, and this turtle will overwinter in both woodland areas and under water.
This species reaches maturity at approximately 8 to 10 years or at a carapace length of 13.5 to 14 cm. Eggs are laid between May and August. Clutches laid later in the season may spend the winter as hatchlings, or the development of the embryo may be suspended until favourable conditions are met the following spring. Pacific Pond Turtles look for food primarily at sunrise. They eat a wide variety of foods (algae, plants, insects, crustaceans, fish, and frogs) and will also scavenge on dead animals. While basking, Pacific Pond Turtles will aggressively defend their place in the sun, sometimes even pushing a smaller turtle off its perch. Maximum age estimates vary considerably, but this turtle can certainly live more than 20 years in the wild.
Reasons for extirpation
This species was subject to unrelenting commercial harvesting for food in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which caused a significant decline in overall population numbers. Habitat has been, and continues to be, modified or lost as agricultural and urban development increase in North America.
The Pacific Pond Turtle is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Other Protection or Status
The Pacific Pond Turtle is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
11 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Pacific Pond Turtle (2013-01-03)This species has not been observed in the Canadian wild in over 50 years.
Response Statements - Pacific Pond Turtle (2004-04-21)A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2011-2012 (2012-10-05)Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (September 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) from November 21 to 25, 2011 and from April 29 to May 4, 2012. On February 3, 2012, an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee of COSEWIC also assessed the status of the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis). During the current reporting period COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 67 wildlife species. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2011-2012 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 1 Extirpated: 4 Endangered: 29 Threatened: 10 Special Concern: 15 Data Deficient: 2 Not at Risk: 6 Total: 67 Of the 67 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 49 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment (see Table 1a).