Keys to secret treasures (Part 2)

On our first full day in the Florida Keys, our snorkeling adventure wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon, so we had the morning free. Checking literature for our base of operations for three days (Big Pine Island), our attention was drawn to something called The Blue Hole, which was said to be the only body of fresh water in all of the Keys. It turned out to be an old quarry that had gradually filled with rain water, but I learned from a fellow visitor who had been a guide there that when hurricanes come, they can blow seawater over the land next to the shore and into the pond, so it is at least partly salty. She said that three alligators live there, but we didn’t see any. We did, however see several soft- and FL chicken turtle 1030004-2hard-shelled turtles in the shallows. This one in particular intrigued me because of its ability to raise its hind feet and splay its toes, possibly so as to be able to absorb more warmth from the sun. I have tentatively identified it as a Florida chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia), but I’m perfectly willing to amend my ID if anyone who knows better would be so kind as to let me know. Whataver it is—what a remedy for cold feet!

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About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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11 Responses to Keys to secret treasures (Part 2)

  1. krikitarts says:

    The link worked just fine for me, and yes, it’s very interesting. The one I observed was on a rock with 3 others. There was room on the rock for maybe 5 or 6 more. Two of them had their hind feet raised with splayed toes, but neither of them was facing any of the other three, and I watched them for 5 minutes without seeing them move or display anything that looked like aggressive or territorial behavior. 4 turtlesBTW, love your shot of the open-mouthed one–looks just like my cat after a nice nap!

    • I’ve always thought it was saying “Scram!” to the other as it slid off the log.

      • krikitarts says:

        Who knows what they say to each other–or how long it takes to say it?! Perhaps it’s a form of podiatric olfactory aggression and the aggressor positions itself upwind from the intended recipient. That would work for a roommate I had in college. (Do you remember Frank Zappa’s song about bromodrosis?)

  2. Vicki says:

    How extraordinary (about the back feet).
    Of all the turtles I’ve viewed in the Botanic Gardens and Melbourne Zoo ponds/lakes/islands (not caged exhibits, wild), I’ve never seen any spread their webbed feet while lying in the sun.

    • krikitarts says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen that either, though apparently others have (Steve G, above, included a link to one of his posts and, in that post, another to one by a follower of his). I’m going to keep my eyes open from now on, every time I see a turtle resting out of the water, whether in the company of others or not.

  3. shoreacres says:

    Over on the turtle forums and discussion pages, people who question the behavior get answers like this. It seems pretty common. In fact, people who have pet turtles, and who provide additional warmth for them through 40 or 60 watt lightbulbs, report the same behavior — except the turtles turn their feet to the lightbulbs.

    Alligators accomplish the same thing structurally. The rough “peaks” on their back actually are long lines of scutes, bony protrusions which raise the skin to increase the amount of surface area available to soak up those precious rays from the sun.

    • krikitarts says:

      Aha! Just as I suspected! Except that the two on the rock who had their feet up were facing in different directions. But then…I just had another look, and lo! Although they’re oriented differently, both have turned their feet so that their soles are facing sol. Thanks for some great evidence in support of my theory!

  4. Adrian Lewis says:

    Yeah I would guess they’re absorbing solar heat too. A

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