6am - Last summer's fieldwork documented the Suwannee cooter on the Pithlachascotee River, which was a new river and new county record for the species. This morning George and I are headed to the Anclote River, the next River to the south. Both of these rivers fell within an ~79 km gap in their distribution. Our find of them in the Pithlachascotee, and hopefully our sighting of them today will help fill in the knowledge of the the species within this supposed gap.
Monday's sighting of them on the Manatee River confirmed our suspicion that this 'gap' is only from the lack of searching for them. Today we are meeting up with George's friend and wildlife artist, Ernest Simmons. Ernest is assisting us by taking us up the river in his boat so we can cover more ground. He is also an accomplished photographer and can hopefully get a voucher photograph with his equipment better than we could with ours.
9:20am - Just got the boat in the water at the mouth of the Anclote River. It will be slow going until we get beyond the tidal influenced section as this is manatee habitat and we cannot go faster than idle speed.
11:50am - Sucess! We just observed one large male Suwannee cooter on the upper Anclote River.
We saw two Suwannee cooters including the yearling below.
2:50pm - We met one of our goals today by finding Suwannee cooters in the Anclote River. We did not find them in the river on the Pinellas County section. This would have been a new county record if we had. The habitat was quite different in this section, higher salinity and a lack of available basking logs.
Tim Walsh - Manager of Natural History Collections and Citizen Science