Water, Water, Everywhere
Most water eventually finds its way into our ponds, streams, and waterways. Rainwater travels through city streets, chemically treated farmlands, and tainted air-picking up pollutants that harm animals who live and reproduce in water. Even if you don't live near a body of water, your habits affect animals that do.
Testing the Waters
Reptiles and amphibians depend on clean water. Help keep their habitats healthy by watching what you put into the water. Here are four simple tests that you can do to monitor the condition of local rivers, streams, and estuaries.
Measure pH or acidity—a change in litmus paper color may indicate acidic water that eats away a turtle's skin and shell.
Take a temperature—like other cold-blooded animals, a turtle's temperature changes with that of its surroundings. Water that's too hot—or too cold—disrupts a turtle's metabolism.
Watch water clarity—if the Secchi disk "disappears" when it's lowered to a set depth below the surface, the water may be too cloudy for underwater grasses—and turtles that feed on them.
Check oxygen levels—freshwater turtles take in oxygen through their skin and throat linings-as well as their lungs. Help them breathe easier by tracking the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.
Watch a Video Clip: Rock Creek Water Testing
We conduct water quality tests in Rock Creek, which flows right through the Zoo. We check oxygen levels, measure pH, and check water clarity.
Squares link to animal fun facts.