“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


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.