Posts Tagged 'turtles'

Diamondbacks

It’s hard to see through the intervening plants, but this terrapin is just starting to dig a hole for her eggs. We were on the path. This is an excellent example of why people need to stay on the path out at Jamaica Bay, as well as Salt Marsh Nature Center where Killdeer and Oystercatchers nest in the grasses. These are places where humans don’t need to be the priority.It took just under half an hour for the whole excavation, laying, burial. Her back feet are surprisingly long. She extends them way back to paddle back the sandy soil she first dug up. All done, she headed back to the bay. She never sees her own eggs.

Unfortunately, the road and bridge connecting these formerly isolated pieces of land in the bay mean the Wildlife Refuge is crawling with raccoons. The raccoons eat the vast majority of Diamondback Terrapin eggs laid here.

More about these Diamondback Terrapins.

How About Some Turtles

Recently seen:
Some Spotted Turtles. The last pictured was tiny, perhaps 1.5″ down the shell (head to tail).Painted Turtles.At a whole other scale, a veteran Snapping Turtle krakening the shallows.

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The new abolitionism: a fascinating profile of Ruth Wilson Gilmore.

The Leeches Are Winning

Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) in combat.Ugh, the leeches! On face and feet and even shell. This stagnant puddle of “fresh” water is simply crawling, or fluttering, with leeches.

Here’s some footage of this colossal wrestling match that was too large to email back to myself from my phone…

Here’s Solnit on the absolute necessity of impeachment.

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?


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