A pond is a great place to explore. You will discover all sorts of animals besides turtles living there. Here is some simple sampling equipment you could make for a pond expedition. In your backpack you may also want to include wide-mouthed plastic jars with screw top lids (such as peanut butter jars), tweezers, hand lens, and a field guide such as the Golden Guide to Pond Life.
- Underwater viewer: A coffee can with the bottom cut off. Cover with plastic wrap and fasten with large rubber band.
- Collecting net: Tape a kitchen strainer to a long broom handle with electrician's tape.
- Secci Disk: Paint two quarters of a large plastic lid black, as shown. Drill a hole in the center and insert large eyebolt with weight on the bottom. Attach a rope that has been marked off with electrician's tape at every foot. Lower into water and count how many feet down you can lower the disk before it disappears. Measures turbidity or "muddiness" of water.
Observation pan Cut the bottom off a large plastic milk bottle, about three inches from the bottom. Fill with clear pond water and add specimens you netted or dredged. The light-colored pan makes a good background for spying dark pond creatures. The top (with lid) makes a good collecting pail or scoop.
Build a Pond
Place an inch of mud and then an inch of gravel at the bottom of an aquarium. Add rooted and floating pond plants and a few decayed leaves. Place in a window out of direct sunlight. Allow pond water to sit in an open container for a day or two and then gradually add more pond water to aquarium through a strainer to avoid disturbing plants or gravel.
Collect 2 or 3 water insects, tadpoles, crayfish, or snails. Don't collect and keep turtles, as they need sunlight to keep shells hard, eat specialized food, and may carry the disease Salmonella.
Cover with a screen, sheet of glass, or plastic to keep animals from escaping. After a time, return them all to the pond.