Thursday, October 11, 2007

Turtles - compare 'n' contrast

Here's an interesting little compare and contrast exercise with the two most commonly seen turtles for most divers.....


Above is a hawksbill from the Bahamas. This pose is probably the one your most like to see as a diver or snorkeller - a turtle moving off from below you. Two things standout - firstly the shell is kind of dirty looking, there is a bit of an algal crust on it and the patterning isn't clear. Also check out the ragged looking back end as the scutes overlap in a series of jagged overlaps.

Below is a pacific green turtle (atlantic greens are essentially the same). Slightly different pose but you can see the same id points for a different species. Firstly there's less of an overlap on the scutes at the back end, its a smoother rounder looking shell. Secondly the shell is much cleaner and you can really see that lovely turtle shell patterning.


As greens get older they tend to get a little more ramshackle looking but they are usually still "neater" than the hawksbills, in fact you sometimes see them having a scratch or clean on a handy rock as they go about their business. There are some more refined ways of telling these two apart (mostly involving the head) but if turtle species can be id'd on "jizz" the above is kind of how I do it. I'm hoping to get decent shots of a couple of other species soonish so you'll be able to see a bit more variety - fingers crossed come the end of the month.

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