Forget the Tortoise and the Hare - Turtles are FAST!

Not to state the obvious, but turtles are wild! Either that, or my life has become really boring.

Last fall we moved to a new home on a lake. Several times a day, we take the dogs for a walk around the lake and have watched the passage of seasons (Yes, we actually had seasons this year - although generally they changed from day to day). Autumn gave way to winter - and we actually had snow! - and now with spring we enjoy the verdant landscape.

In addition to the changes we have seen on the grass and trees, we have watched the arrival and departure of wildlife. We consistently have egrets, which are a source of constant fascination to my dog, who always wants to introduce himself. (One time he got away from me, chasing after an egret, and I thought he was going to end up in the lake trying to fly after it!) In the fall, a flock of geese stayed for several days, and occasionally ducks stop by for a visit. 

The arrival of spring has brought with it a team of turtles, as our lake is now teeming with turtles! Based on the various sizes, from gigantic to tiny babies, I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of them. My husband and I are enthralled by these turtles and regularly report on their activity. We will see a dozen of them lined up sunbathing at the edge of the lake, but before we can get close enough to get a decent picture, they jump into the water - fast!

I don't know how they sense us coming. They are usually staring at the lake, but somehow they perceive our presence and get in the water quick. Sometimes they all jump in at once; other times they are like synchronized swimmers in an Esther Williams' film sliding in one by one in sequence. Eeeeevery once in a while, one will remain on the shore (?? Is it called a shore on a lake?) and watch the others leave, as if to say, "Where'd everybody go?" Then he'll notice our approach and think, "Oh, crap!" and jump in after them. I always wonder why they don't just escape into their shells. Isn't that what turtles are supposed to do?

Once in the lake, though, they don't disappear from sight completely - at least not at first. Their little heads will be stretched up watching us like German submarines. Then as we walk by, "plop - plop - plop," they're gone. Sometimes there might be an old turtle sitting (or lying?) alone, who ignores us, or a little baby by itself who doesn't know any better. I try to steer the dogs clear so we don't startle them into swimming for their lives.


One day the turtles did something completely different and actually lined up facing the walking path! As always, as we came near, into the lake they went.

This weekend, though, the most amazing thing occurred (in the limited scope of our turtle obsession). A group of about half a dozen were gathered together on the water's edge in a circle, like they were having a turtle conference. As we walked by sloooowly, trying to be as quiet as possible - even the dogs seemed to be tiptoeing - one turtle turned his head and watched us pass, but they didn't jump! My husband and I imagined what their conference was about. "Jenny, could you read back the minutes from last week's team meeting?" Then, "You make an excellent point, Jeff, but I have to warn you that humans are approaching." I wish I could have gotten a picture of their conference, but I knew if I stopped and took my iPhone out, they would be gone before I opened the camera. Plus they might have had important business to discuss. I just hope they aren't planning to overthrow the human population around here. We don't have any submarines.

***UPDATE*** April 11th: I think the turtles ARE planning an attack! For the first time EVER, they were on the human side of the lake!



video
The most boring video ever made (at least it's under 40 seconds)

 

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