A recent early morning found a group of Upper School students in the OES wetlands, learning turtle data collection techniques from researchers from the Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District. The district keeps track of native (such as Western painted) and non-native (snapping or red-eared) turtle species.
“Our students were fascinated watching the researchers during their turtle trapping and data collection process,” said Upper School Science Teacher Joshua Caditz. “The students were able to see careful observation in action as the researchers determined the sex, weighed, and measured the turtles. In addition, the students were able to see them carefully notch the native turtles’ shell marginals before releasing the turtles back into their natural habitat. These notches serve as unique identifiers, crucial for recognizing and tracking the native turtles if they encounter them again in their yearly survey, and allowing the district to closely monitor their overall health and growth over time.”
The district releases native turtles and the invasive turtles are taken to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to be used for educational purposes. (The turtles in the photos below are both non-native snapping turtles, which were removed to protect the native species living in the OES wetlands.) “Beyond building a long-term data set to build a comprehensive understanding of the turtle populations in the area, it's about conservation and ensuring the survival of our native species in the face of challenges posed by invasive species,” added Caditz.