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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Painted Turtles

In past blog articles we have learned about spring ephemerals but we also have ephemeral ponds. 
 . . . and water that behaves like an ephemeral pond.  An ephemeral pond is one that comes forth in the spring due to more frequent rainfall associated with the season.  It becomes home to fauna that must act quickly to take advantage of what the pond offers. The short-lived spring pond offers breeding for amphibians and is an important link in their life cycle.  
River backwater and wetlands often act like ephemeral ponds in that spring rains fill them beyond their normal boundaries providing fresh water and a chance for plant life to surge in growth which, in turn, provides more abundant and varied food for animals that inhabit the wetland.
Painted turtles ( Chrysemys picta) like the ones shown in these photos make good use of ephemeral ponds.  They eat and procreate until the wet season ceases causing the pond to dry up.  The painted turtle then leaves, often crossing long distances of dry land in search of another wet spot.  While perfectly suited to life in and under water, the Painted turtle does very well on dry land.
It is a bit different for swamp turtles. Living is a wetland such as a swamp allows a Painted turtle to take advantage of spring rains, with its accompanying plant growth, without having to expend energy moving to a new location since such wetlands seldom dry up completely.  
 After a winter spent mostly buried in mud, it must feel good to swim to the surface, climb up on a log and feel the sun upon your shell. Painted turtles don't seem to mind the "slime" and duck weed that accompany them whenever they surface.
While Painted turtles breath and even absorb oxygen while underwater, it  must be easier to breath out of the water. I don't know, but imagine that it would be a bit like us putting on an oxygen mask to receive purer oxygen than we normally breath - just easier.
A Painted turtle has a long neck that it can stretch far out enabling it to reach food without coming out of the water.  Its flat, dark shell blends in perfectly with the dark water surface, normal to still water.  
These turtles you have seen today are enjoying their life at the Williamstown Wetlands, in Williamstown, WV.
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6 comments:

Jane said...

Great turtle pictures. I used to see turtles all the time as a kid. Now I might see one once every 10 years. Just another sign of what we are doing to the environment.

floweringmama said...

Those pictures are too cool! I've seen more turtles the last two weeks than I have in years. One of the boys even had me stop the car so he could "help" one cross the road.

bonifer said...

I love turtles, Nellie, great shots!!

RedPat said...

I love turtles too. We would always see a lot of them in our local creek when I was a kid but since i don't hang out at creeks much anymore I rarely see them. Thanks for the cool shots.

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

Beautiful following the turtle... thanks !

Rose said...

These are great shots......