While visiting the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma recently, I came across a special encounter with a red-eared slider turtle. As I walked through one of the boat launch parking areas, I noticed a female turtle that had dug a hole in the gravel. Based on her behavior, I believe she was attempting to lay eggs.
This was a bit concerning, as parking lots are not ideal egg-laying spots for turtles. The ground is compacted and vulnerable to predators. Ideally, red-eared slider females lay eggs in soft soil near water. The eggs incubate for 2-3 months before hatching.
I took a few quick photos of the gravid (egg-carrying) turtle, being careful not to disturb her. These aquatic turtles dig on land to lay eggs, then cover them and return to the water. Even if the eggs won’t survive here, I didn’t want to interfere with her natural instincts.
Though not the ideal location, it was special to witness this mother turtle’s efforts to continue the cycle of life. I hope she can eventually make it back to water safely. For now, I’ll treasure this unique encounter with Oklahoma wildlife.
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer
• Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
• Date Taken: June 29, 2018
• Aperture: f5.6
• Shutter speed: 1/200 sec.
• ISO: 1250
• Exposure Bias: 0 EV
• Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
• Focal Length: 400 mm
• Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
• Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Here is a Red-eared Slider that I photographed here in Arkansas: Red-eared Slider Searching For New Habitat