Invasive week/Turtle Trapping

Hannah Hornyak

Ahh, being the sardine girl, what a glamorous duty! Taking up the role of an air hostess, but with a uniform consisting of a pair of waders and a baseball cap. On our recent turtle trapping adventures, I’ve had the responsibility of carrying cans of sardines; an ideal lure for our little reptilian friends. Now that’s not even the fun part, I’ve also gotten to jab holes into the cans, causing sardine juices and oils to spurt out everywhere. Being a person who doesn’t really partake in eating fish, this has gotten me out of my comfort zone and I suppose I’m starting to accept the smell.

We’ve got five different species of turtles around our area; Snapping, Red-Eared Slider, Eastern Musk, Spiny-Softshelled, and Painted. The Spiny-Softshelled in particular are an indicator of a non-polluted environment. They’re thriving in the Chadakoin, beside the Gateway Center, demonstrating that our local water outlets are not as polluted as some have come to believe. Ultimately, we still have a responsibility to these creatures to keep their environment healthy and thriving. Reducing our personal plastic usage and disposing of waste properly is a good start in taking care of these turtles.

Ayah Quadri

For two days, the PWA crew took some long walks in an effort to catch and examine our native turtles. Everyone worked together to set up the big turtle traps in the mucky, green water. The second day, we began to collect the traps and became sad to discover that no turtles were found in the first few. Then, there they were. Two cute little baby turtles caught in the nets of one of our last traps we took out. My friends and I were quick to notice it was a painted turtle since it had green stripes along its shell and body as well as red coloring all over. Both were beautifully colored and were clearly not red eared turtles that are similar looking. Red eared turtles, an invasive type in Jamestown, have the same colored stripes but don’t have red on their body or shells. There is only red on the two spots on there head where their ears would be. Both were males since they had very long tails and claws. Unlike snapping turtles, painted turtles don’t bite and have a much shorter neck length, so they are unable to reach their head back over their shell. Along with snapping, painted, and red eared turtles, Jamestown also holds musk and spiny soft-shell turtles. The spiny ones are much more rare to spot than the others. The PWA crew catches turtles in order to make assumptions about an area and its ecosystems. For example, if there is a spiny soft-shell turtle in an area, then that indicates cleaner water, as these turtles dislike water pollution. It is very important for us to examine the types of species living in different areas, as they all indicate different information. I am grateful to use this opportunity to better understand our local turtle species and I hope we will be able to catch bigger turtles and other types in the future! Though they are small and seem unimportant, turtles, like most creatures, play necessary roles in their environments and should not be taken for granted or unnecessarily harmed.

Andrew Johnson

Hello, this week we caught two turtles. To do this we set turtle traps and went back the next day to see if we caught any. As we went and looked in the traps we weren’t very gleeful, because we seemed to have caught nothing. Until, we got to one of the last seven traps. As we pulled it up we saw the distinct red lines of a painted turtle. These turtles were not very big and were easy to handle. Painted turtles are interesting because they have red stripes down their side, which is why they are called painted turtles. Although, you have to pay attention because you could mistake them for the red eared slider, because those only have red behind their head and not along their shell. We couldn’t tell if they were male or female, but usually the claws and tail of a male are longer. Furthermore, we did this to track how the population of the turtles and where they are traveling to. You do this by notching the turtle, which is like banding a bird, and by putting this mark on the turtle it can tell us how the turtles are doing. All in all, trapping turtles is important for us because it helps us learn how the turtles are doing.

Mason Tomczak

This was our first week of turtle trapping in the Chadakoin river. We set the traps yesterday, and  it was admittedly an arduous task due to the blistering afternoon heat and grossness of the swamp. I especially enjoyed the sardine juices that sprayed onto me when i opened the can of bait that stayed with me the rest of the day. Although yesterday I was hungry, tired, and sweaty for multiple hours, today I learned to appreciate our hard work with the results we obtained. We caught two painted turtles, and although they were small babies they were very feisty. They tried to bite any fingers and scratch with their tiny claws at our hands. The turtles were easily identified as painted because of their distinct red spots but less easily identified as male or female because of their young age. Project Wild America does turtle trapping in order to help indicate the health and status of our local rivers and ecosystems, we can use the amount or variety of turtles caught to see if pollution or other factors are prevalent in affecting the turtle’s environment. With more gross yet rewarding work, we will hopefully be able to draw more precise conclusions based on our findings from turtle trapping.

Jenelle Grigelevich

Aren’t turtles fascinating? I’ve always loved them. I’ve grown up with turtles. I even have a pet turtle, his name is Shelldon and he’s a red eared slider. I’ve had him for almost 6 years now and I wouldn’t trade him for a thing! Red eared sliders are wonderful pets, but they’ve introduced a problem to local ecosystems.  They’ve become an invasive species. Invasive species are species that are introduced to an environment that they are not native to. Many invasive species don’t have any natural predators and outcompete other organisms living there, allowing the invasive species to thrive to unsafe levels, and threaten the native species that were originally there. Red eared sliders are not a native turtle to New York State, yet we find them everywhere. This is because many people get red eared sliders as pets, but then decide they don’t want them when they see how big they get (they can reach up to 12 in). People have started releasing their pet turtles into ponds and rivers. Instead of doing this, people should try to find a new home for their pet turtle or try to return them to a local pet store.

Oliva Ruiz

Invasive species awareness week is here! After teaching little kids about the role invasives hold in many eco systems and the risks that come with them, as a crew we’ve been able to educate an important part of our community on this topic. Personally, I am a new student representative on the Riverwalk board and I was able to inform the board of the invasive species Ive been able to identify! Just to name a few- Japanese Knotweed, Honeysuckle, and the Rusty Crayfish are just a few we have in our local community. Yesterday the crew was able to spend the hot summer day setting up turtle traps across the riverwalk inlets and this morning we checked to see if we caught any of the five species we have in the area. We found two baby Painted turtles- one male, one female! These colorful creatures are cute and vibrant with red and yellow stripes. By trapping turtles we are able to record data for different projects and surveys; for example, some turtles are good indicators of pollutants. It has been very eye opening to be able to identify different native and invasive species, and differentiate their  genders as well. I am so excited to learn more about invasives and kayak on Chautauqua with the crew!

Asha Deharder


Hello, Asha Deharder here! This week the crew had the ultimate pleasure of setting up turtle traps. We gathered our chest waders, turtle traps, stakes, and sardines (for bait) and headed out. We set up seven traps along Jones and Gifford Rd. and Riverwalk. Despite the heat and the swamp water, I was excited to catch some turtles. Today, we returned to take down the traps and see what we caught: we got two baby painted turtles! We got to hold them and view them up close. It was an amazing experience. Through this experience, I also learned about the five local species of turtle. The infamous Snapping turtle, with its long tail and sharp beak. The Painted turtle, with yellow and green stripes down it’s neck. The Red-eared slider, with red ear marks behind the eye. The Eastern Musk, with two yellow stripes extending from its nose. And of course, the evasive Spiny Softshell turtle, with its long snout and smooth shell. Overall, this experience educated me on our local turtle populations as well as gave me field experience in trapping and studying turtles for scientific purposes. 


Until next time- 

Asha Deharder

Joseph Youngberg

Wednesday we traveled to set turtle traps in streams and inlets to see what kinds of turtles we could catch in different areas. This morning we went back to the locations and at the first spot we put traps we had no luck as far as turtles in the traps but the second spot we pulled the traps, we had two baby painted turtles swimming around inside of it. Turtles are affected by pollution & cannot live in very poor water which shows the water around isn’t as bad as many people think & that they can thrive in the local streams around us.

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