Mergenathaler Mergenthaler and Garfunkel are aquatic turtles -- red-eared sliders to be specific.  Mergie is the bigger one, a female, and Garf is the smaller male. That's Mergie to the left.

They were put up for adoption in the Ajo Copper News and the young lady who took the ad asked if the newspaper couldn't take them.  I agreed, forgetting she would be leaving for college -- and blissfully unaware that they will probably outlive me.

(Tortuga, by the way, is Spanish for turtle.)

They soon outgrew their first aquarium, and their second was too small within a couple of years. For a couple of years they lived in a wading pool on my porch. They seemed to enjoy having room to swim and natural sunlight to bask in.

When their pool was cleaned, they got to spend some time on dry -- or muddy -- land.

Turtles in their pool
The wading pool worked for about a year, then I got tired of battling leaks and decided what they really needed was a pond.

The pond has gone through several versions. Here are my granddaughters with the turtles in Pond v1.1.  I found out the hard way that it's not a good idea to use newspapers as padding under the liner. We had a bad case of pond gas that prompted me to pull it all up and start on Pond v2.0

This is Pond v2.0 with Mergenthaler on her basking bench and Garfunkel doing turtle yoga while balanced on a rock in the foreground.

The colors don't show up well -- it's not really a green and brown pond. The liner is blue and the brown is just pond debris reflecting in the sunlight.

After javelinas repeatedly broke into the yard and destroyed my little waterfall (the rocks at the upper left) I opted for a fountain in the middle which is less natural looking but much more secure.

Slartybartfast While I had known Mergenthaler had laid clutches of eggs on her excursions out of the pond, I assumed the dry desert heat would keep the eggs from hatching.

So I was startled, to say the least, when I found a funny rock while working on the pond's coastline by porchlight one night. A funny rock that poked its head out and then pulled it right back in.

Slartybartfast (fans of Douglas Adam's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" will understand) spent his first eight months in an aquarium inside the house until he was big enough to join his parents in the pond.

And here's the Pond v2.3 with a fountain instead of a waterfall, though it's hard to see with the palm in the way. The picture was taken in early April 2002.

Things look a bit more open and spacious because the pomegranate was trimmed back this spring and is just starting to branch out again.

The plants on the left, with the red-orange flowers, are aloe of some sort.

This was taken the same day. You can see Garfunkel  to the left on the black basking area (I used an entry mat to make it), Mergenthaler is in the middle, and little Slartybartfast, now much larger than a quarter, is to the right climbing onto one of the pieces of wood that edge the pond.

I call Slarty "he" but "she" may also be appropriate. It'll be a while before I'm sure whether Slarty is a boy or a girl.

Pond v3.0 is in the planning stages.

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Last updated April 2002

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