Well look who I ran into a while back –
My friend the wood turtle. On the same river and the same log as in my first post with one of these beauties. From my reading, wood turtles don’t roam very far at all, unlike Blanding’s turtles that do. Which leads me to wonder, is this the same turtle? It’s the same size. It’s in the exact same spot. But there is some debate on the average size of a wood turtle territory and it may depend on the quality of food sources. Makes you wonder.
As I approached, I noticed one, much smaller turtle on the log, but he’s further up. As I got closer this beauty emerged from the water and climbed up too. At first I thought it was another painted turtle, but then when I got closer I knew it wasn’t. This time I positioned the kayak on the other side of her and the log in a sharp bend where the current is very slow. And I got closer than the first time.
I decided to get closer because while I was just getting settled in, I heard a motor and voices. Pretty soon a pontoon boat came put-putting into view, very close to the log. On board a woman had a camera with a very long lens and was taking photos of the turtles. We said hi and I told her the big one was a rare Wood turtle and she was so happy to have seen it. I said she just came out of the water a few minutes ago and seemed pretty chill about the big boat. A few minutes later they had turned and came back by again and still, the turtle didn’t even blink. That’s what made me feel ok about getting a little closer and I think these pictures are better than the first one.
Plus, check out that plastron!
Such vivid orange and the scales on the legs are impressive.
Here’s a kind of contrasty shot of her neighbor – a painted turtle which you can see is more aquatic than terrestrial. Aquatic turtles tend to be longer than they are tall, have smoother scales and shells for better streamlining, longer claws for purchase on slippery things, and webbed feet. Terrestrial turtles have shorter claws and rougher scales and shells. Taller shells, too. The wood turtle, with two feet in the water and two on the land, has a blend of these traits. Box turtles in comparison have much taller carapaces. All can retract into their shells fully, something a sea turtle can’t do.
Anyway…that’s my turtle-y encounter. I wonder if I shall see her again.