Saturday, February 25, 2017

2/24 Myakka Again & Softshell Turtle

I decided to get out and go for a bike ride today.  This is a very big state park, so you really need to drive or bike to the lake area and concession stand from where I am camping because it is 3-4 miles. 

I stopped at the bridge to see who was hanging out there.  No birds, but some hopeful alligators.  They like this area because fisherman use the bridge for fishing, and you never know what might fall from their hooks.

This part of Florida had rain earlier this week, so the resurrection fern no longer looks dead and have revived.  It will stay green for a couple of weeks until it gets really dry again, and then it will go back to looking like just some old dead leaves on tree trunks.  

They have been doing some burning in the prairie area.  Most state parks will occasionally set controlled fires to encourage the sprouting of native plants and to control the invasive species. 

Just as I approached the lake and concession area, I saw something moving just off the road.  Got off my bike, and there was this female softshell turtle.  I know it was a female because she was huge, but also because she was digging around, testing for soft soil to lay her eggs.  Her back was about 18" across and from nose to tail, if stretched out, she would have measured about 30".

My, what a long neck you have!  Softshell turtles spend most of their life underwater and use their long neck and snorkel-like snout to breathe. 

She is digging here.

What a strange-looking face!  And see the long nose?  She can stick it out of the water and leave the rest of her head and body submerged.  Pretty clever adaptation.

She is really throwing the dirt around here, and she may have laid a couple of eggs, but I am not sure.
Check out this video I took of her digging: 
I hung around watching here for at least 15 minutes, then went to shop at the gift shop.  Half an hour later, she was still looking for a spot to bury her eggs.

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