Fellow Prisoners of Splendor

//Fellow Prisoners of Splendor

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, but 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.

By | 2017-09-24T19:17:36+00:00 January 31st, 2013|Blog, Pacific Northwest, Sea Scale Snail, Seattle +|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. M. Firpi January 31, 2013 at 4:01 am

    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.

    • ingrid January 31, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Maria, this is brilliant! I’m going to add a blurb to the post with your information. Thank you.

  2. Mia McPherson January 31, 2013 at 5:48 am

    I have no clear idea how the turtle got there but it does seem to be enjoying basking in the warmth of the sun!

    • ingrid January 31, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      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.

  3. Laloofah January 31, 2013 at 6:06 am

    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!

    • ingrid January 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      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.

  4. Louise January 31, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Your posts are as lyrical a your photos are beautiful. Thank you.

    • ingrid January 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      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.

  5. ingrid January 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    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.

  6. Ron Dudley January 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    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.

  7. Bea Elliott February 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Amazing! Great shot – And super cool info!

    • ingrid February 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you, Bea. And, had a little help with the info from Maria. 🙂

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