Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Northern Map Turtles on the Little Miami River

Rick and I saw a lot of Northern Map Turtles along the Little Miami River while canoeing last week. They were a little more wary than the Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtles from this post, but they still did a fair amount of posing for the camera...

...a female Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica) lounges on a log in the Little Miami River. A cloud had just passed in front of the sun, and she seemed a bit miffed, wondering "Where's the sun?"

...look at the size and shape of that noggin! Female Northern Map Turtles have much wider heads than males. As a result, females have a slightly different diet. The larger crushing surface of their jaws allows them to eat larger molluscs. They also eat crayfish and insects. Males eat smaller molluscs and insects. Another difference between males and females--females have smaller tails. In this photo we can see a small tail and a broad head...must be a female!

...a green-haired sea monster!
...or maybe just a male Northern Map turtle who has been busy accumulating moss.

Notice the yellow triangle behind his eye? That is a distinguishing mark for the Northern Map Turtle. It can be triangular, oval or even heart-shaped. Another Map Turtle, the Ouachita Map Turtle (Graptemys ouachitensis), has a more rectangular or crescent-shaped yellow mark, and the False Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica) has a much thinner mark.

...a young Northern Map Turtle still shows a clearly defined dorsal keel. This little guy allowed us to come in pretty close before plopping into the water.

...and talking about plopping, Northern Map Turtles are wary little beasts. This is the usual view of them...the big plop into the water. I was lucky to capture her mid-splash here. Usually I just capture the splash...

For more information on Northern Map Turtles, click here.

17 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

they do have some beautiful and shapely little heads! and the heart-shaped mark is endearing! great photos!

Lois Evensen said...

Wonderful! Just love your images. I have always liked turtles. I had no idea we have so many different kinds nearby.

Bob Bushell said...

Fantastic photos. The most of them is a treat.

Janice K said...

How pretty...Even the parts that they can hid under their shell are beautifully designed.

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Love turtles! These are new for me. Amazing how flat their shell is... at least the adults. Beautiful captures as always!

Randy Emmitt said...

Kelly,
Really enjoyed this post and all the turtle posts in fact. Guess you'd like our pond it had lots of Eastern Painted Turtles and in the spring we usually see a big snapping turtle.

Brian said...

Kudos to you! You just don't see many turtle pics on nature blogs. Very interesting. That one with the moss might need a comb!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great pictures, Kelly, of the turtles... Don't think I have seen them up close like this... They are amazing little critters... Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

Elaine said...

They are quite beautiful! I don't get to see turtles here so I am enjoying ypur trips down the Little Miami.

Sue said...

I've never had much luck getting close to them. You've gotten some amazing shots, Kelly!

Dan Huber said...

Wonderful photo series Kelly - very neat looking turtles.

dan

holdingmoments said...

Lovely head markings on these Kelly.
Beautiful.

KAT said...

sweet turt photos I love the turtles..thanks for sharing your great photos
KAT Griffin

Montanagirl said...

Beautiful photos, Kelly. Your posts are so informative. I liked the markings on the turtles and all your descriptions.

Tammie Lee said...

such wonderful turtle portraits, love each and every one!

Out on the prairie said...

They have really keen eyesight is why it is hard to get close.Nice shots!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone for the kind words. I'm really having a lot of fun learning about turtles, and they definitely must have incredible eyesight because they see me coming every time! It's fun to see how close they will let us float towards them before they take that dive and slip below the water's surface! :-)