Fellow Prisoners of Splendor

“In a world older and more complete than ours, [animals] move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

Henry Beston in The Outermost House

Pond Slider at Japanese Garden Seattle

Seat

I photographed this pond slider in late afternoon sun at Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum. I wondered how the slider got to the top and managed the balancing act. There was no possibility of a person putting the turtle there, so I assumed this was a volitional act by the slider. If you know more about how turtles perform this balancing act, leave me a comment, because I’m curious. It just looks so unlikely. I never did see this slider climb down. He left his post when I was looking away briefly. I thought perhaps this pose was an anomaly but in looking at other similar shots of turtles on rocks, it appears these sliders know what they’re doing when it comes to balancing their bliss on mountains.

Olympus OM-D • Lumix 100-300mm • f7.1 • 1/1000

Jan 31, 2013 (12:22p) – Maria (of Birds from the Carribean) added this in the comments … about turtle physiology. Many thanks:

Their hind legs are webbed and are broader and much longer than the front legs. They are also placed downward in this position “∩” as opposed to the frontal legs which are placed like this “∪”. This “∩” hind leg position gives them a distinctive advantage and force for climbing. Adding to this, they use the moisture of the rocks, when it rains or when it’s humid. Their ventral shell is softer and it’s segmented, and suctions the humidity from the rock, as it “sticks” to the rocks this way when climbing very steep surfaces. Their frontal legs are also clawed and help with this climbing.

Comments

  1. says

    Their hind legs are webbed and are broader and much longer than the front legs. They are also placed downward in this position “∩” as opposed to the frontal legs which are placed like this “∪”. This “∩” hind leg position gives them a distinctive advantage and force for climbing. Adding to this, they use the moisture of the rocks, when it rains or when it’s humid. Their ventral shell is softer and it’s segmented, and suctions the humidity from the rock, as it “sticks” to the rocks this way when climbing very steep surfaces. Their frontal legs are also clawed and help with this climbing.
    M. Firpi recently posted…The African Tulip Tree BloomMy Profile

    • says

      Mia, when I first saw him in that position, it really looked as though someone had put him there, with his little feet flailing in the air. But in this location, that wouldn’t be possible. It’s a pretty civil and monitored spot. When I was researching (and not finding) how turtles do this, I came upon quite a few images of slider and turtles perched exactly the same way on large rocks.

  2. says

    I think he’s doing turtle yoga, and this asana is called, “Boulder Balance.” :-) And he does indeed appear to be thoroughly enjoying his bask in the sunshine! I love how his shell almost perfectly matches the rock. And like you, am mystified about how he could have gotten down, as his feet don’t seem able to reach the rock’s surface to gain any traction!

    What a fun photo!

    • says

      Funny, I love it. Maybe there’s an entire practice known as turtlesana. ;) I imagine it relates to Maria’s description of the leg shape … or maybe there’s a tail assist with redistributing his weight downward. I need to spend more time there this spring and actually see a slider go into the Boulder Balance.

    • says

      So kind of you, Louise. That Beston quote almost brings me to tears every time I read it. It so perfectly describes how I see our fellow animal travelers on this planet … he articulated what I couldn’t translate from my heart.

  3. says

    btw, if any of you know a good WordPress plugin to allow readers to edit their comments for a short time after posting (you know, catch a typo or change a sentence) let me know. I was trying one out (AEC) that seemed to seemed to bog the blog down into slower loading. So, I’m looking around.

  4. Ron Dudley says

    Love the shot and the behavior, Ingrid. The slider looks pretty pleased with him/herself.

    I always enjoy the variety of your blog from post to post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Choose Your Favorite Recent Post