The female Florida softshell turtle grows up to 24 inches long while the male only reach about 14 inches. I saw several females in the area as well as small softshell turtles (one of which I saw eaten by an egret - photo is on egret page).
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This was my first sighting of this turtle breed. I could see it was tracking my motions as I walked along the other side of the fence with my camera about 10-15 feet away. Based on its size it must have been a female and she apparently has very good eyesight.
After returning to my room I zoomed in on the above photo to find this prehistoric-looking creature had been tracking me. Glad I was safely on the other side of the fence!
It looks like these creatures have tongues.
Closer view of the webbed feet on this turtle.
The shell on this turtle is at least 1.5 feet long.
This turtle is going for the food just outside of the water.
It actually doesn't look that heathy and two months later there was a dead turtle floating in the pond.
There are 2 softshell turtles and 3 hardshell turtles in this image.
Only the head of the second softshell is visible at the far left lower corner.
I took this photo from the other side of the pond behind the fence, but as soon as the softshell saw me, she took off down the hill for the water. I managed to get my camera focused in time before she disappeared in the murkiness. Never realized turtles could move that fast! The turtle to the right is an adult red-eared slider.
Momma has come out of the water probably looking for a place to plant some eggs.
She's looking up the hillside by the pond.
Not sure if this turtle had kicked up the dirt/sand to cover her tracks or it's a defensive, protective action.
The blur in the lower left corner of the image is flying sand.
Those flipper feet work pretty well moving her on land.
She has kicked up sand on top of herself.
I saw this Florida softshell on the hillside near one of the drainage ditches. I don't know if I interrupted her burying eggs or something else was happening as she was tossing sand/dirt over her shell. This image is a crop of a telephoto shot, but I know these turtles have good eyesight so it may have felt threatened by my presence.
I apparently got too close for comfort as I leaned over the edge of the stone arched roadway across the ditch.
A top down view of a juvenile. Its head and neck are much bigger in relation to its shell size than on an adult turtle.
This baby turtle still has the yellow coloring around the rim of its shell and in zigzags across its feet to help it blend it with water vegetation.
(It was moving its head, so its head and snout are blurred.)
The remains of this turtle floated on the pond for several days before the other creatures pulled it under to consume it.
It had floated for 1-2 days before I shot this image. The odor of the decaying critter was quite strong!
All photos © S. M. Garver