Sunday, January 22, 2012
The first river we tried, after a miserably long drive from Philadelphia and a few hours of sleeping in a rest stop in Florida, was a tributary of the Apalachicola, a gorgeous, clear-water, turtle-icious tributary of the Apalachicola, and thus territory of Barbour's map turtle (G. barbouri).
Turtle number one was not a map turtle, but it was darn cute, a loggerhead musk turtle (Sternotherus minor). We ended up seeing a lot of these basking low to the water on the smaller branches and twigs sticking above the surface. The first one held still in Scott's hand just long enough for this shot...
...and then leaped from his hand like the most quick and agile turtle we had ever seen. Luckily there were more.
We kept on wading, snorkeling, diving along the bottom. A larger turtle caught our eye, and we caught the turtle. Meet one of the omnipresent yellow-bellied sliders of the Southeast (Trachemys scripta), close cousin of the red-eared sliders that are a pest in our Delaware Valley waters.
Of course there are snakes down there too. Several species of water snake (Nerodia species) hunt the waters of the Florida panhandle, but what we hear that most of the water snakes in these clear, spring-fed streams are brown water snakes (N. taxispilota) like this little one.
Though we did not catch one of those massive-headed female map turtles, we did come up with a couple males basking.