I am a small wild Blanding’s Turtle, and I’ve lived in a small vernal pool for most of my life. Not too long ago I was captured by some humans who took me on land, measured me, weighed me, and attached something to my shell, I’m not sure what it was. I was let go and I was spending more time in my vernal pool. It’s in an area with dense shrubs and shallow pools carpeted by thick sphagnum moss. I live among many other creatures in this pool, from frogs and tadpoles to leeches and other small insects. Somehow those people who found me have been able to keep finding me although I’m not sure how they are able to. I feel like it may have something to do with the thing that’s attached to my shell.

I had been considering moving on to bigger and better places for a while and now the water levels in my pool are lowering quite fast so I started on my journey to new places. At first I had to make my way through shrubby thickets and the biggest pools I have ever known. There were strange and new creatures along the way, but I wanted to explore different places so I kept going beyond all the sphagnum, shallow pools, and twigs. I reached a small stream that I followed down into a huge open area that was very scary! This area had shallow pools with mud, open areas, and just a few grassy places to hide in. There were so many more creatures in there that I had to worry about! There were really big bullfrogs croaking all over, and I even saw a few snakes swimming around and big birds flying up above!

Considering all of the dangerous animals in the area I decided to go very quickly into a safer area. On my way through this new environment I not only saw snakes and big frogs but I also saw other turtles! These turtles were different from me though. They were bigger, had long claws, and had flat shells with red and yellow streaks on them. They were Painted Turtles and they seemed to like sitting on logs in the sun, (something I never do as I am too timid for that). I kept on going through deeper pools than I could ever have imagined, the bottom seemed endlessly far away and there was no cover for me to hide in. While travelling through these deep pools I was able to see even more turtles swimming down below me. These big turtles were green and covered in algae, they had long spiny tails, big claws and scary heads that snapped up anything that came close! Apparently, the tales were true and Snapping Turtles really do exist.

Eventually, I made it to a safer area where there was deep water and thickets of sweet gale for cover. I met an elderly Blanding’s Turtle who was missing her back legs from a long time ago. She told me to watch out for the great blue herons that walk around on their long legs trying to find food wherever they can. She told me that they look for small turtles like myself to eat as food, so I have been as careful as I can!

Once again, even in this new place, those humans who caught and measured me have found me again! This time I know how they did it because the Blanding’s Turtle I met explained that I have something called a transmitter on my shell which sends a signal that the humans can hear. They then listen for a beep which gets louder the closer they get to me. Ever since I moved to this new area they have kept finding me, every now and then picking me up to measure my shell again. I always manage to get away in the end and sometimes I hear them coming, but I hide so well they can’t find me. I think I’m pretty good at this game!

–Toby Rowland