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We have some turtles that go between an outdoor pond for summer and indoor pond for winter, and recently noticed these barnacle-like things in the filter line of the indoor pond and on the rocks of the outdoor pond. Anyone have any idea what they are and if we should be concerned? They don’t really look like what I think of as barnacles, so that’s a bad way to say it, but they’re stationary and stuck in place like a barnacle. The pond is in southeastern Pennsylvania.
 

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I'd suspect some sort of plant part -- many trees are flowering now and dropping stuff all over.

The pond forum on gardenweb, or turtleforum, would likely have people there who could ID this.
 

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I agree it looks husk-like.

Turtles shed their scutes and when healthy these appear against filter grates and in the water. Good shed scutes are somewhat translucent, amberish, with suggestion of the pattern if its present.

I have seen though, turtles with curled up edges of thin, badly progressed scute shedding due to environmental and dietary deficits or infections.
 

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Also, anything they are fed that is significant in chitin, or sturdy cellulose will pass undigested. Prawn parts. Seeds, husks.
 

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Greetings,

These are feeding shelters built by filter- or deposit-feeding aquatic larva of some kind of dipterid. In life, each cone would house a larva - with the cones slowing growing larger as the larva matures. The cones provide a secure, stable attachment point since the larvae like to feed in strong currents.

Harmless detritus that is also a fascinating example of arthropod architecture...
 

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My first thought was some sort of caddisfly. I could well be wrong, probably am, but I went straight to "some kind of bug that's since flown away".

Bottom line - it's nothing I would worry about. Not to say "stop digging", just suggesting "hey, don't be freaked out while you're digging".

Good luck!
 

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I was hesitant to include hinting at an abnormal scute thing, but turtles are incredibly steadfast through some really crazy long term conditions, with equally bizarre effects, less so with outdoor guys but i can never say yep ive seen it all now!

Ever since Kimcmich's comment, there has surfaced faintly a childhood memory of a neighbor kids backyard dough boy pool, and being more than absently intrigued by empty pod like things, associated with the pool.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks, all! We've had most of the turtles for 20+ years, so I'm used to finding scutes, but these structures were new. The dipterid larvae answer makes a lot of sense to me, though! Interesting stuff.
 
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