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Mother Turtle

"Today’s snapping turtles have hardly changed from 215 million years ago when Proganochelys, the most primitive turtle known, lived ...To put things into proportion: humans evolved a mere short 3.5 million years ago."


The turtles live about 3/4 of the way across the lake. I swim through the bubbles. What kind of turtles? Lots of different ones! As the sun rises, I see a head and tail through the mist. What kind? Can't tell. The sun is right in my eyes. She submerges long before I arrive.

That afternoon I swim again. When I get to turtle alley, she surfaces right in front of me a body's length away. Her head is the size of my hand. She must be a hundred years old. I check her jaws. Snappers usually hunt in the shallows eating small weak creatures to keep the pond healthy. Will turtles bite in deep water? The internet doesn't have much to say about that.

I splash some water at her. It doesn't do a thing. She doesn't even blink.

"There is no sense in being afraid," she says. "I just want to get a look at who is making all this noise."

I look into her dinosaur eyes and calculate my response. Then I give her the universal sign that I am not looking for trouble. I turn my head completely around and glide the other direction.

After I move about ten feet, I venture a peek. She is gone. So when she dives back under the water, I figure she has every opportunity to do whatever she wants whenever she wants to do it.

Our very quiet introduction in the middle of the lake is over. I change direction again and finish my swim.