Eastern River Cooter

Back in June 2018, I had the pleasure of photographing an Eastern River Cooter at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. As luck would have it, I found this turtle crossing the auto tour road, which made for a great opportunity to get up close and personal with this species. It’s common for females to cross roads in search of suitable nesting sites.

Eastern River Cooter
Closeup of an Eastern River Cooter
Eastern River Cooter
An Eastern River Cooter crossing the Auto Tour Road

To capture the shot, I parked my pickup truck a short distance away from the turtle and approached it on foot. As I got closer, the turtle stopped, allowing me to take a few photos. I used my Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens, shooting in aperture priority mode (AV) with a fast shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second at f/7.1, and an ISO setting of 500. I had the white balance set on auto, and used single-point continuous autofocus with evaluative metering.

Here are some interesting facts about the Eastern River Cooter:

  • They prefer living in places with flowing water, such as rivers, but can also be found in other freshwater habitats.
  • Their diet consists mostly of aquatic plants, which make up about 95% of what they eat.
  • If you try to approach them, they will quickly retreat into the water.
  • They are able to breathe underwater through a sac in their tail, which allows them to stay underwater for extended periods of time.
  • Nesting typically occurs between May and June, and females will lay between 10 and 25 eggs. The eggs hatch within 45 to 56 days.
  • Adult Eastern River Cooters can grow up to 15 inches in length, and females are typically larger than males.

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