Friday, October 14, 2011

Finally, a Midland Smooth Softshell Turtle (Apalone mutica mutica) in the Great Miami River!

I photographed this very young Midland Smooth Softshell turtle (Apalone mutica mutica) last Saturday morning along the sandy banks of the Great Miami River near the Shawnee Lookout boat ramp. The young turtle was submerged in the water with only his eyes and the tip of his snorkel-like nose protruding. It looks like a bit of PhotoShop trickery was used on these photos, but it wasn't. The turtle's eyes show the true color. It was very bright out, but the turtle was hiding in a deep shadow. As a result, everything under the water was drained of color, but the eyes, which were above the waterline, seemed to glow surreal...

...a gorgeous eye and a gorgeous apricot stripe behind the eye help identify this turtle as a Midland Smooth Softshell. Another identifying field mark is the pattern on the carapace (upper shell). It is a series of dots and dashes. This pattern appears on all young and male Smooth Softshell turtles. Click here for an earlier post to compare the Midland Smooth Softshell's carapace pattern with that of the Eastern Spiny Softshell. Females of both species lose the intricate patterns and develop blotchy markings.

...now look at the foot. The Smooth Softshell turtle is much more webbed than the Spiny Softshell. This added webbing accounts for the Smooth Softshell's dexterity and speed in the water, and is the reason he can claim the title of fastest swimmer in our area.

...cool eye rendered by Mother Nature!

...another way to ID smooth softshells is to look at the markings on their feet and legs. Eastern Spiny Softshell turtles are heavily streaked and spotted, but Midland Smooth Softshells are not. Click here for a photo of the markings on a spiny's feet.

For a video I took of baby Smooth Softshell turtles burrowing into the sand, click here.
Click here for more Midland Smooth Softshell turtle photos.

15 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

these shots are so amazing! like you said, the accent on the eye while everything else remains muted is so neat!

Montanagirl said...

Super shots, Kelly! Love that golden eye!

Kerri said...

Wow Kelly - he steals my heart! Super shots!

Sue said...

Beautiful. What a treat to find him.

~mel said...

Super pics! Turtles are usually so spooky ~ and hard to get a good shot of. You did an awesome job on this one:)

Hilke Breder said...

Awesome pictures, Kelly. Almost spectral- those eyes seem to look out from another world.

Bob Bushell said...

Tou can easily see why it's named. beautiful photos.

holdingmoments said...

Those eyes are amazing Kelly.
What a lovely little chap.

KAT said...

what fantastic photos...Love them all !

- KAT -

Gillian Olson said...

What an interesting looking creature this is, the eye is amazing.

Elva Paulson said...

Wonderful photos of the softshell. Makes me want to see one.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Your recent shots of turtles have been a real revelation to me. This is another beautiful series and the settling and highlights give this turtle a magical look.

Thanks
Guy

Tammie Lee said...

I can really feel your appreciation for this beautiful creature. I love the first photo with the sand on it's shell, how the grains are similar colors to it's wonderful eyes.

Banjo52 said...

Those eye shots are really something. And interesting info as usual.

Thanks for the comment at my place. Lots of grey, wind, and rain now, but the trade off in color might just be worth it.

Saw several turkey vultures on the Indiana back roads and tried to "embrace" them the way you do. Still trying. If I ever succeed, I'll share the prize money with you.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! Isn't he a cutie! I really enjoyed watching him...he really stole my heart...

I'm just about to leave for The Big Year movie! Can't wait to see it!