Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Friday: 18 April 2014

Morte d'Mort  -  @ 09:23:02
The box turtle season so far has been disappointing. I've seen two box turtles on my many trips, but these haven't been normal encounters.

The first was a small one on Apr 11 (3 weeks after the usual opening gun), wading in Goulding Creek and ten feet below me as I stood on Goulding Cliffs. It spotted me immediately and took to the deeper water before I could make my way down. I waited a few minutes, but it didn't reappear from its hiding place beneath a root mass. So I wasn't able to do my usual photo IDs, or measurements.

Then yesterday, Apr 17, I found this dead male, upside down. I'd walked this path just a few days before and he hadn't been there then.

I'd found him before, last May 29, for the first time, less than 50 feet away apparently cavorting with a female. Now he was freshly dead, just a day or two probably as the insects were just making headway. There were no signs of predation or other marks, and he was tightly enclosed. Maybe it was disease, or cold, or both. Temperatures had plummeted from 65F during the rains the previous day to 31F by the morning of Apr 16. So he may have gotten caught in the cold.

Glenn asked if I had named him, which I traditionally do once I rediscover a box turtle. I hadn't thought of it, but I suppose I could call him Mort.

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