Turtle is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. We found 627 fragments of turtle bone and shell (carapace and plastron) in the Yema-po excavation. These materials represent two species of turtle, one native to California and one imported from China.
The remains of at least 10 Pacific pond turtles were found at Yema-po. This turtle reaches between five and seven inches in length and was widely hunted in California during the late nineteenth century.
The soft-shelled turtle was an expensive item, and was probably imported from China to Yema-po in dried form. In Chinese folk medicine, the soft-shelled turtle is regarded as a "cold" or Yin food, and men favor it because they believe it will restore their sexual vitality. The few soft- shelled turtle remains found at Yema-po probably were brought there for medicinal purposes.