Almost two hundred years ago, in the summer of 1816, a French biologist by the name of Charles Alexandre Lesueur visited Erie's own Presque Isle. While conducting research, he caught an unnamed species of turtle, which he officially named Testudo geographica, the Lake Erie Tortoise, the next year.
Today, the turtle species is known as Graptemys geographica, the Common Map Turtle, given this name because the lines on its shell, limbs and neck resemble the markings of a topographic map.
During sunny days in May and early June, and again in late August and September, large groups of these turtles can be seen at Graveyard Pond, usually several dozen of them together on one log. They bask in the warm sun to raise their body temperature and get rid of leeches, fungal growth and algae from their shells and skin.
To make the viewing of these unique creatures more accessible, Presque Isle Partnership installed an observation deck specifically for visitors to view Common Map Turtles in the Graveyard Pond area of Presque Isle. From the roadway there is van accessible parking spot, and a pathway leading to an observation deck with a viewing scope, where a variety of turtles are visible.
This exciting new addition to Presque Isle will allow tourists to clearly observe the Common Map Turtles that were discovered right here in Erie almost 200 years ago.