Posts Tagged 'turtles'

Be the Turtle You Want To Be

Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina. The females are making their way ashore now to lay eggs. Some will walk a long way, unfortunately attempting to cross roads, so keep an eye out if you’re driving.The clouds were turning on and off the sun.

I’d say this was a medium-large sized specimen. I’ve seen larger ones, true, but I’m not going to call this one small.

Nesting

Two Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) were cutting across the parking lot repeatedly. They were gathering nest material: Seems awfully late, doesn’t it? Many species have already fledged this year. Others are well into incubation. But Cedar Waxwings are very late nesters: they want their young to be hungry around the same time as summer’s fruits and berries ripen. A Diamondback Terrapin nesting at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. She comes ashore, clambers towards some sandy soil, and starts digging a hole with her back feet before laying her eggs and covering them up. We saw more than a dozen in the waters, crawling around, or in the hands of Hofstra’s Jamaica Bay Terrapin Research crew. These terrapins, the only local turtle species that lives in briny water, have, like many turtle species, temperature sex determination. That’s right, the sex of the wee baby turtles is determined by temperature. Read more about JBTR research.

I also had a fantastic Independence Day with the terrapins (hey, it’s not their fault some idiots built JFK on their breeding grounds) some years ago.

The Snappers Are Restless

One of the gigantic Chelydra serpentina of Brooklyn.Another? There were at least two big ones in this pond. But note the difference in leech positions.

By the way, just look at all the parasitic life-forms latched onto this one’s head and neck! Crowd-sourcing these pictures to Twitter, I found some suggestions that these were Placobdella parasitica and P. ornata, a.k.a. the turtle leech.

Yellowbelly

On a 40F day, a single turtle is observed on the edge of the Sylvan Water. What’s this, though? Not a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), by far the most common turtle across the city. I once counted 70 basking along the Lullwater in Prospect Park.

This is a Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta). As their binomials, which are actually trinomials, suggest, they’re the same species. Both sliders are native to the southeast. The pet trade has spread them all over.

Please don’t get a turtle for a pet. It’s a wild animal. It shouldn’t be captive. I don’t think it matters that they’re bred for the trade: nobody should be making a profit off of them. Also, those shitballs on the sidewalk who sell them when they’re under 4″ are illegal animal traders, so report them.

So many of these impulse buys are then disposed of, if the turtles are lucky, in local fresh water far from their native region by irresponsible fools. It’s a great way to spread disease and screws the turtles who are supposed to be here. What the fuck is wrong with people who do this kind of thing?

Make Your Own Metaphors

Turtle with a leech latched onto its…brain? Some people say the Senator from Oligarchy, Mitch McConnell, whose career is based on an infusion of foreign cash, looks like a turtle. I wouldn’t want to insult a turtle with that comparison. But the miserable old cynic sure acts like a leech on democracy… so there’s that.

November Slider

Recently on Valley Water… a lone Red-eared slider was enjoying the freakish day.

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I no more enjoy writing about the human excrement that is Donald Trump than you do reading about it. When he tweeted the disgusting Britain First tweets yesterday, giving aid and comfort to yet more fascists — the murderer of MP Jo Cox was poisoned by that BF filth — he showed once again that there is absolutely no bottom to his depravity in playing to his “base” of racist/nationalist yahoo-dumbfucks. He feeds these vicious dolts tweets to eat while he and the monstrous Republican Party work hard to immiserate them (and the rest of us) for the gangster-oligarchic authoritarian/corporatist state of their dreams. They’re cannibals set on dismembering the nation. And damn few of us seem to realize that a mass movement is the only way to stop them.

Any syllabus of this forgotten idea should start with Jonathan Schell‘s history of noncooperation, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People.

Muckle Turkle

The Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum). This species is endangered here in New York State, where they are only found on the non-NYC parts of Long Island. (Habitat destruction, car wheels, the usual work of H. allegedly sapiens.) A fair number were in the Pitch and Tar Swamp at Jamestown Island, Virginia, where I took these pictures last week. These are the first Muddies I’ve ever come across.They’re small turtles, about 4 inches long when fully grown, and just under 5″ for the record-breakers. And have they got a lot of neck! Evidently, they’re sometimes mistaken for young Snappers, but the practiced eye will disabuse that notion. I read that they’re the only mud turtle in most of their range and have a strong tolerance for salt water, so can be found in brackish marshes and the like.

I tried to turn one of the numerous examples in that turtle paradise into a Stinkpot (Sternotherus odoratus), a.k.a., Common Musk Turtle, but I failed. That’s a species I still haven’t seen. They are supposed to still be on Staten Island.


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