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We saw countless turtles over the course of the day, which were mostly Map Turtles. Most of the time the turtles flopped into the water before you could paddle the canoe anywhere near them. Adam and I were in the same canoe, and some of the turtles were less wary then others. I was able to hop out in shallower water a couple of times and grab a turtle or two to get a better look.

A wary turtle:

Some not so wary turtles:

Common Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)


The rest of the day we did nothing, and let the river take us where it wanted to. It seemed too soon when we were back at the spot we left the car, and had to leave our aquatic refuge and go back to a world of traffic and stop signs and gas prices. It would be so simple if there were rivers instead of roads. Anyway, later in the afternoon we went to a spring which flows into the river we had just been floating on. The spring was beautiful, and standing next to the 56 degree water is like natural air conditioning. Just dipping your hands into the cool blue water is enough to relieve you from the oppressive heat and humidity, at least for a minute or two. Around the spring were numerous small caves and crevices formed in the limestone. These little cracks and fissures are home to the Cave Salamander, an amphibian that I intended to photograph.

The Spring





With the aid of flashlights we were able to see dozens of Cave Salamanders in their damp and dark retreats.
Cave Salamander (Eurycea lucifuga)



As we dragged ourselves away from the spring, I lifted a rock to find this little snake underneath.

Western Worm Snake (Carphophis vermis)

Despite our bad luck the night before, we decided to drive the roads again to look for snakes. Dusk was approaching, so we began scanning the pavement for the familiar shape. Every little twig or leaf on the road started to look like a snake. It wasn't long however before we saw the familiar shape of a copperhead slithering in front of us. We found two snakes that night, and I opted to hold on to them until the next day to get some pictures of the vipers. Trying to bag a copperhead off of a black surface that has been baking in the sun all day can be tricky... All went well though, and I took pictures the next day, and the copperheads were released where they were found.

Osage Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster)



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