White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas is a wonderful example of biodiversity in the midst of urban sprawl. The objective of this blog is to promote White Rock Lake as a destination, to capture the essence and beauty of the lake, and to portray it as the living, breathing organism that it is.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The Prehistoric Turtles of White Rock Lake, Dallas
If there is an exposed log in White Rock Lake, it will soon
become littered with a seemingly endless number of basking turtles, both big
and small. Turtles are ectothermic (cold blooded) which means that they rely on
the temperature around them to regulate their body temperature. Although
turtles are mainly aquatic, basking on a log or rock is a way for them to warm
Turtles basking on a log at White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX
White Rock Lake has a number of different species of turtles:
Red Eared Slider, Yellow Mud Turtle, Missouri River Cooter, the Common Snapping
Turtle, and the Mississippi Mud Turtle.
The turtle in the image below is a Missouri River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna metteri). It's a strong swimmer with webbed hind feet. Their
shells are dark, and some Cooters have the most exquisite, intricate yellow
patterns as you can see from the image below.
This turtle was swimming in a creek that feeds Dixon Branch Creek. Luckily, the water was clear so the pattern is visible.
A Missouri River Cooter turtle at White Rock Lake, Dallas
Did you know that turtles are some of the oldest reptilian
species on the earth?
Turtles have remained virtually unchanged for 200 million
years or more, so show these critters some respect! They date back to the
dinosaurs, and still retain many traits that they used to survive back then.
Fishing is popular at White Rock Lake and quite often turtles will bite on a baited fishing hook. The poor turtle below has a fishing hook stuck in its mouth! This image was captured from a bridge in the park that spans Dixon Branch Creek.
This poor turtle in Dixon Branch Creek has a fishing hook stuck in its mouth
Turtles may spend most of their lives in water, but they are
air breathing animals and need to come to the surface to breathe from time to
time, as the Red Eared Slider below is doing. This image was captured from a bridge in the park that crosses Dixon Branch Creek.
Red Eared Slider turtle coming up for air at White Rock Lake
All turtles lay eggs. It is interesting to note that with several
species of turtles, temperature in the nest will determine the dominant gender
of the young: warm nests producing primarily female turtles, and cooler nests
producing mainly males.
Several smaller turtles sharing a tree limb in Sunset Bay White Rock Lake
The Red Eared Slider(Trachemys scripta elegans) seen below is a medium sized turtle that loves to bask in the sun, but is very difficult
to approach. When they see you coming, they quickly disappear into the water.
They have a prominent patch of red on both sides of the head. They are sometimes referred to as a “pond
Red Eared Slider turtle basking on a log at White Rock Lake
Turtles live for a long time, and some of them live for
longer than 100 years.
A turtle emerges from the murky depths of Sunset Bay, intently watched by a curious goose