Friday, December 19, 2008

A GALLERY OF TURTLES (International) pt. 2

In my ongoing tribute to my friend Luka's obsession with turtles... I thought I'd move on to some or our Chelonian friends from around the world with another list of my favorites... Again, in no particular order.

06. Snail Eating Turtle (Malayemys subtrijuga)

This rare turtle is distributed throughout SE Asia.

Snail Eating Turtles come equipped with Japanese Kabuki face paint.

Malayemys approaching its usual diet of freshwater aquatic snail

They are Threatened due to habitat loss and overcollection, but have proven to be difficult to raise in captivity.

The colors of many turtles fade with advanced age.

The Snail Eater is a small turtle, only reaching a length of 8 inches.

07. Ploughshare Tortoise or Anganoka (Geochelone yniphora)

The Anganoka is endemic (found only) in Madagascar.

One of the rarest tortoises in the world, they have suffered from habitat destruction and overhunting.

The name "Ploughshare" refers to the plough (plow) like projection (an extended gular scute) at the front of the plastron. Gular means throat, and scutes are the sections of the shell. The males are larger and have longer gular projections, with which they may joust each other over females.

They have a notch at the top of the carapace, so that they may extend their necks upward to feed on vegetation.

" Hey baby, wuss crack a lackin?"

Captive breeding programs for Ploughshares by environmental and governmental groups have become an integral part of conservation efforts.

Mother and young

Sharing the love with Geochelone yniphora

08. Expansa or Arrau (Podocnemis expansa)

Arraus live in freshwater rivers in the tropics of South America.

The largest river turtle in the Amazon watershed, this picture taken in a tributary in Brazil

Expansa is in the suborder Pleurodira or "sideneck turtles", which pull their heads and necks in sideways, instead of straight back in an S shape... as do most of the freshwater turtles you know, who are in the suborder Cryptodira.

The colorful face of the smaller male

Herbivorous turtle, often dives for food

The bright colors of a younger male

Females come up onto sandy beaches and sandbars to lay eggs.

Looking for just the right spot

A large female at night

Digging a deep nest for the eggs, like most turtles they have Temperature Dependent Sex Determination (lower temperatures produce mostly males, higher produce mostly females).

Arraus congregate in large numbers to back on logs.

09. Pignosed Turtle (Carettochelys insculpta)

Pig-noses are softshell turtles found in Northern Australia and New Guinea.

While most softshells have cartilaginous shells, Carettochelys has a bony carapace underneath the skin.

The Pignose is unusual in freshwater turtles, in having flippers like Sea Turtles.

Also referred to as the Fly River Turtle in Australia, they prefer sandy bottom rivers. They are sometimes found in brackish and saltwater estuaries.

Males have longer and thicker snouts then the females.

A hatchling Pignose

10. Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

The largest turtle species alive swims the open ocean.

Though we often see pictures of Sea Turtles on the beach, they spend the vast majority of their lives out in the ocean (where they will feed mostly of Sea Jellies).

The distinctive ridges on the carapace of the Leather Back, which is lacking in scales... thus skin covered, and "Leatherback"

A Leatherback caught in a fishing net is freed.

Pretty turtles get all the attention.

A female, who has come ashore, begins digging a nest for the eggs.

A researcher monitoring the progress of this female, as she lays eggs. Leatherbacks are of great concern, because they are Critically Endangered from pollution, capture as bycatch in fishing nets, and egg collection for food.

A female makes tracks back to the ocean, after laying eggs. She will never knowingly come into contact with her young again.

Leatherbacks make nests on beaches of all continents, except Antarctica.

A hatchling emerges from the sand, ready to head to the ocean.

A hatchling's first encounter with the sea.

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