Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Turtles: 14 sunning and 1 swimming

with 33 comments

Click to enlarge.

Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin on March 20. The swimmer looks like it could be a Texas map turtle, Graptemys versa.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 3, 2018 at 4:46 AM

33 Responses

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  1. That’s the longest turtle lineup I’ve seen. I know they’re happily basking, but my first thought was the similarity to my morning commute.

    Robert Parker

    April 3, 2018 at 7:41 AM

    • Have you developed a hard shell to ward off the stresses of your morning commute?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2018 at 7:53 AM

      • My fellow commuters on the train are OK, even if somewhat turtle-like, and much less communicative than New Yorkers

        Robert Parker

        April 3, 2018 at 8:26 AM

  2. I like those marching turtles…hup..1.. 2 ..3… 😀


    April 3, 2018 at 11:19 AM

    • I can see how you would sense movement in the first photograph, but in fact all the turtles on the log were motionless. Their goal was to soak up as much sunshine as they could.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2018 at 1:33 PM

  3. Aw, I love this! I’ve been seeing a few on logs at the old river channel. Unfortunately, they ker-PLUNK in the water about the time I get ready to photograph them!


    April 3, 2018 at 3:28 PM

    • Yes, they’re pretty kerplunky, as I’ve experienced plenty of times. What you’re seeing in this post is cropped from photographs taken with a 100–400mm zoom lens. I was standing on a boardwalk and couldn’t get physically close to the turtles, so I guess they didn’t feel threatened.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2018 at 4:09 PM

  4. Kerplunky! My new favorite word. I like the photo of the swimming turtle, and yes I think you are right that it is a map turtle. Very cool. When my family lived in Brazil there was a park across from the apartment. Urban living was tough on this young tomboy, so I took solace in the park. The centerpiece was a circular pond, with turtles who would bask, lined up like this. Your photo really takes me back!
    Soon I’ll be looking for frogs. But they can be a bit kerploppy.


    April 3, 2018 at 4:33 PM

    • I generated kerplunky spontaneously. Your comment sent me searching for the word, and I got over 3000 hits, including one for Kerplunky Bars:


      There were only a few hits for kerploppy, so you’re closer to uniqueness.

      I’d forgotten that you lived in Brazil. I’m glad to hear this post takes you back to a happy time there. Now the big question is how to say kerplunk in Portuguese.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2018 at 5:23 PM

      • My sister’s tortoise are more kerklunky – – when they come down their wooden ramp in the morning, it sounds like someone tobogganing down a set of stairs.

        Robert Parker

        April 3, 2018 at 6:28 PM

        • You should make a video of that and post it to YouTube. Maybe “go turtle” will become the new version of “go viral.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 3, 2018 at 8:10 PM

      • Hahaha! I found it hard to say ANYTHING in Portuguese! It was fascinating there, though.


        April 4, 2018 at 8:46 AM

        • My impressions upon hearing continental Portuguese (as opposed to Brazilian) on my first day in class in the summer of 1965 were that it sounded Slavic. By the next day it began to click and I fell into the comforting familiarity of a Romance language, as Portuguese had already unmistakably revealed itself in print.

          Sorry you didn’t have a chance to pick up a bit of the language.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 4, 2018 at 9:39 AM

          • It never clicked, although we were there for 6 months and had a tutor. I picked up a few words. French came very easily to me though.


            April 6, 2018 at 9:26 AM

            • Maybe that’s at least partly because English has acquired so many words from French.

              By 1965, I’d already studied French for years, including phonetics, so the nasal vowels in Portuguese seemed normal.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 6, 2018 at 9:44 AM

              • My dad was also very adept at picking up new languages.


                April 11, 2018 at 9:01 AM

                • Good for him. My father’s native language was Russian. He had to learn English as a teenager.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 11, 2018 at 9:23 AM

                • Really? That is so cool. I enjoyed working for a vet who is Ukrainian, and would teach me little snippets of his language. And he would have workers who were Polish sometimes. I really enjoy the sound of different languages even if I can’t understand them.


                  April 13, 2018 at 11:14 AM

                • Unfortunately I never learned Russian as a child. I took a summer school course in introductory Russian between 10th and 11th grades; my grandmother was thrilled when I could babble a few words and phrases to her.

                  I’m like you in enjoying the sounds of languages even if I don’t understand them. I don’t like watching foreign films that are dubbed; give me subtitles anytime.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 13, 2018 at 4:54 PM

                • Oh yes, same here! If we keep pulling Putin’s tail, we may all end up speaking Russian! 😦


                  April 16, 2018 at 9:45 AM

  5. I’ve seen plenty of red sliders, but never a Texas map turtle. The designs on its face and flippers are beautiful.
    As for the others, their line on the log brought to mind the old loglines that sailors used to measure speed, and early explorers like Lewis and Clark used to calculate river flow. Of course, there’s probably not much current in the lake, but maybe the turtles are practicing.


    April 3, 2018 at 10:16 PM

    • I can confirm that at least some of the turtles on the log were red-eared sliders because I saw the red. The map turtle was new to me, too, as far as I remember. (Forgetting is easy, and doesn’t even take practice.)

      I searched briefly but didn’t find any figures for the average speed of the current in Lady Bird Lake. It’s the Colorado River, after all, so the water must be flowing.

      While I hadn’t heard about the old loglines by that name, the designation of nautical speed in knots comes from using knotted ropes in the same way. When I searched, the first hit was this one involving Galveston Bay:


      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2018 at 11:04 PM

  6. I wondered if these turtles were part of a social or family group or if this line up was just the turtle equivalent of ‘birds of a feather flock together’. I am still wondering. So far Google research hasn’t given me a definite answer.


    April 4, 2018 at 8:38 AM

    • I’m sorry that I don’t know the answer, either. I’m not even sure that all the turtles were of the same species. The odds seem against it. Even so, nothing stops us from rewriting the old saying: turtles of a shell together dwell.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2018 at 9:31 AM

  7. Great pic Steve .. I had a good laugh when I saw it! Sunbathers win 😃


    April 7, 2018 at 12:25 AM

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