Spiny Softshell Turtle Las Vegas, Nevada USA

We were looking for the spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera), a native species, in the rivers around Las Vegas. Got some tips from a few local people on where we might find them and after 3 days of searching, we found this unusual turtle. Not sure we would find them as the temperatures had been near freezing which is often when turtles brumate (a type of hibernation for reptiles).

Spiny Softshell Turtle 5

The turtle has an unusual tube-like protruding nose which makes it different from any other turtle we have photographed. It has a thin body and the shell (carapace) is somewhat flexible. Near the head, on the edge of the shell, there are some small spines and hence the name spiny softshell turtle.

Spiny Softshell Turtle 3

We discovered them on some rocks on the far side of a fast-moving river. They were larger than we anticipated. The shell averages 40 cm (15 inches) but can be much larger, especially in females. Apparently, they can live for about 50 years.

Spiny Softshell Turtle 4

At about 10 years of age, these turtles will begin to mate. This occurs mid to late spring as the temperatures warm. On average, the female deposits about 20 eggs on the sunny banks of the river generally in a sandy area or a gravel bed.

Spiny Softshell Turtle 2

Like many turtles, they consume a wide variety of food. Insects and various types of vegetation make up a large portion of their diet as well as fish. They will often bury themselves in the river bottom and wait for a fish to pass by and then ambush their prey.

Crocodiles and Hippos of the Serengeti, Tanzania

We spent the first day of our safari in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti. Our first stop was the Grimote River where we had great encounters with both crocodiles & hippos. A few of the crocodiles we came across were enormous and it quickly becomes apparent that these animals need to be respected. The hippos seem so docile and almost harmless. However, about 2900 people get killed each year from these animals. There is so much diversity in the Serengeti and we are photographing so many different species. Each day we will share some of our photos.

Crocodile (7)

Crocodile (3)

Crocodile (6)_Tricia

Crocodile (2)

Crocodile (4)

Crocodile (1)

Crocodile (5)_Tricia

Hippo (1)

Hippo (4)

Hippo (3)

Hippo (2)

Hippo (5)

 

Japanese Giant Salamanders, Japan (Part 2)

We had a bit of time before our flight back to Canada so we thought we would share more of our photos of this very photogenic Japanese Giant Salamander. Please enjoy!

Salamander (8)

Salamander (5)

Salamander (9)

Salamander (7)

Salamander (3)

Japanese Giant Salamanders, Japan

During the last two days we had a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with the Japanese Giant Salamanders in the mountain rivers of Japan in the Gifu area. These salamanders can reach 1.5 metres (5 feet) in length and weigh up to 25 kg (55pounds). They generally hide under rocks and in crevices but if you are patient you may have a chance to photograph them in the open for a brief period of time. Tricia had just that situation and is busy getting some excellent photos.

Salamander (4)

We would like to extend our thanks and sincere appreciation to Ito Yoshihiro, our salamander expert and guide. He spends numerous hours learning and studying them and was willing to share his expertise with us. Great job Ito-san! Also, thanks to Andy, of Big Fish Expeditions, for organizing this trip.

Larry, Tricia & Ito

As you can see there is a wide variety of colours which is partly dependant on age. It is believed that they can live up to 80 years in the wild.  It seems a bit surreal to have driven into the mountains of Japan, prepared our cameras, put on our wetsuits and spent time in the river interacting with these interesting creatures. It was a nice change from photographing sharks.

Salamander (1)

T_Salamander (2)