A turtle is not just a fascinating species, but a silent teacher. ~ Hints Of Life
Try to be like a turtle- at ease in your own shell, Bill Copeland. The beautiful thought captured my conscience after my visit to Central Park on August, 13. Oftentimes, you want to enjoy the experience in solitude for a while before penning down your thoughts on paper or a blog. Such is the case with my new post ‘Sunbathing turtles’.
It was a surprise scene at the Lake in Central Park as I and many other park lovers witnessed a very pleasant sight- numerous, beautiful red-eared turtles sunbathing around the 18 acre lake. The turtles coexisting in the environment with you. Stretching their limbs right at your feet and even posing for the camera was quite an enthralling experience.
Red-eared sliders are a solitary species, but they do “socialize” during mating season. Most turtles do not venture too far from their established fresh water habitat unless searching for a mate or nest site.
Red-Eared slider sunbathing: Heat absorption is more effective when their limbs are stretched outwards. Red-eared sliders are almost entirely aquatic, but as they are cold-blooded, they leave the water to sunbathe to regulate their temperature.
These turtles are poikilotherms, meaning they are unable to regulate their body temperatures independently; they are completely dependent on the temperature of their environment. For this reason, they need to sunbathe frequently to warm themselves and maintain their body temperatures.
Though most of the turtles were basking alone in the sun (as you see in the pictures), I spotted a group of turtles sunbathing together on a rock (in the first picture) and a baby turtle swimming near by. It was a beautiful sight which attracted a lot of kids and their parents. I was also able to spot a rare Yellow bellied slider turtle on the south-west side of the Lake, stretching its limbs, drying itself on a beautiful summer day.
Yellow bellied slider
Yellow bellied sliders are aquatic turtles. This means they spend most of their time in the water but unlike amphibians, they need to be able to get out of the water to dry off and breath. Yellow bellied sliders do not have gills. They grow to be almost a foot long, are excellent swimmers, and live well over 20 years. They are cousins to the red eared slider and have almost identical care requirements.
The first turtles that made Central Park their home were pet turtles released into the Park’s man-made fresh water ponds by their owners in 1980’s, since then their population has grown tremendously. The most common among them were the red-eared slider turtles. In addition, snapping turtles, painted turtles, musk turtles and some yellow-bellied sliders that hail from the Southeast make up the turtle family at Central Park.
As I walked through the Lake into the ramble at the Upper Westside, my day was filled with joy, a sense of fulfillment griped my mind, body and soul. It was a day well spent in the company of nature.
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