Saturday, June 27, 2009

Its Raining Turtles!

I was greeted by this lovely lady first thing this morning. She is a river turtle (I believe she is a Suwannee River Cooter, but there are several similar turtles) and she is a long way from the river. She was not too far from my office this morning because she was laying her eggs. I tried not to disturb her too much because she has been hard at work for a long time.
To get from the river to a nice spot with soft sand and full sun, she climbed a very steep hill, about 130 feet in length. Then, by what her tracks show, she meandered around the area for a while looking for just the right spot. The grey sand on the left shows her tracks pretty well. You can see the short swipes from her feet and the smooth, flat area where her shell dragged along. Her spot was in total, probably about 300 feet from the river... and did I mention the enormous hill? It is a Florida MOUNTAIN! After finding her spot she dug two or three small holes, one deep and one or two more shallow. She laid one un-fertilized egg in the shallow hole and several fertilized eggs in the deeper hole. Hopefully any predators that come around looking for a meal will be satisfied with the un-fertilized egg and move along.
I find this turtle amazing. She has traveled a long way and she has obviously faced much more adversity in her life than just the big hill. Her shell is mis-shapen on one side, but solid, which makes me think that she has been hit by a boat, narrowly escaped an alligator, or maybe even was hit by a car on one of her previous egg-laying excursions. She also had mosquitoes feasting on her face. I wanted so badly to brush them off for her, but that definately would have been more disruptive to her than the mosquitoes. Instead, I wished her luck and we both went about our business.
I took care of my paperwork in a hurry so that I could try to beat the afternoon heat and get some outside work done.
I found that the water level at the spring was finally low enough to see the dock again!!! We are getting closer and closer to opening the spring again for swimmers and divers. I hope hope hope that we can open for the 4th of July. I scrubbed the dock, cleaned the signs, and was more than happy to scrub the steps that lead from the dock to the water. I took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my shorts to stand in the water on the steps and scrub the mud away. It was so refreshing to be in the cool cool water after scrubbing in the hot hot sun! I can't wait to have the spring back!
While I was scrubbing the dock, I had two other turtle encounters. I spotted a baby turtle, no bigger than an apple, sunning itself on a log. Sorry, he was too quick for me and my camera. Then, something caught my eye on the high bank next to the spring. A turtle tumbled, end over end, down the hill and PLUNK, into the water. I guess another mother was off laying eggs and found the quick way to the water! Who knew that an empty park would be so exciting today? (There may have been a few flying frogs on the walkway this morning too.)
Enjoy the before and after shots below. Also note the tannic, tea colored water. This is a BIG improvement from the mud puddle that it has been. Just wait until you get to see it clear!


Lakitu said...

Your wet footprints are funny.

Cathy said...

I can't belive the differance since we were there a week ago! The deck looks great. The boys are mad they missed the frog fling!C