Sunday, May 11, 2008
My Thoughts on the Turtle Quiz
And here are my two cents on the turtle quiz. There are three species pictured in this photo. The large softshell turtle is a eastern spiny softshell, Apalone spinifera spinifera. Although this photo does not show its characteristic spines, I did see them through binoculars when this massive female was turned to the bank. We do have smooth softshells in Ohio like Jason mentioned, but they are in the bigger river systems further south.
The second species in the quiz is the red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans considered a non-native species in the Olentangy. There were believed to be a few disjunct northern populations along old oxbow ponds of the Scioto river south of Columbus near Circleville. However, I consider anything in the Olentangy to be either individuals that are released pets, or, perhaps these turtles are breeding in the wild now. I've never come across a baby red-eared slider in the wild, or a nesting female, but I am very much curious to know if this species is breeding in Ohio. In many parts of the world, and even out west, this species is considered a nasty invasive. They may be becoming invasive here in Ohio and only time will tell.
Here is a video of a male map turtle attempting to court female red-eared sliders (woops, wrong species) and other female map turtles that I captured early this spring. The female red-eared slider wants none of the action from the male map turtle, so she climbs up on a rock to bask in the sunlight. The male then swims over to a female map turtle, and they face each other under water, beginning their courtship:
And the third species is the common map turtle, Graptemys geographica. A turtle of rivers, I have seen them in the Olentangy, Big Darby Creek, and the Grand River in northeast Ohio. They are extremely wary and are not easily approachable. Binoculars or even a spotting scope is the best way to observe them. Best of luck searching for turtles this summer, they really are quite fascinating creatures.