No fewer than five species of turtles inhabit the Pond year-round. Close-up views of Belvedere Castle, which towers over the Pond, make this a popular picnic spot.
The Pond’s most common turtles are the red-eared sliders; distinguished by red spots around the ears, they spend their days sunbathing on the banks of Vista Rock and sliding into the water to cool off. Though beautiful, the red-eared slider is considered an invasive species because it competes for the food sources of the other turtles (a reminder to never release pets in the Park—it’s both illegal and a danger to the animal and ecosystem). Turtle Pond is also home to snapping, painted, musk, and box turtles. When the weather turns cold, they burrow into the mud at the bottom of the Pond.
Turtle Pond is considered Central Park’s newest water body, physically formed in 1937. When the receiving reservoir of the Croton Water System was filled in to create the Great Lawn, a small, jagged-edged pond remained. It was referred to as Belvedere Lake until 1987, when Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern renamed the pond in honor of its inhabitants.