Gopher Turtle Opens the New Research Season

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Male Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), Naples, FL

For turtle researchers (and Turtle Journal), March can be the cruelest month as we wait for our local turtle species to rise from long winter brumation.  The perfect fix is a trip to the Florida Gulf Coast and a visit with these tank-like gopher tortoises.

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Vanderbilt Beach in Mid-March

As Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse walked Vanderbilt Beach in Naples this week and enjoyed the beauty of the Gulf Coast’s wildlife, she encountered a fabulous male gopher tortoise preparing for the spring season.

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Male Gopher Tortoise Plastron

A middle aged turtle of size and stature, he was still a bit chilled by the front that had passed through Florida the end of last week. 

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Left Rear Ped of Male Gopher Tortoise

The close up of his left rear pad made us wonder how different it would be dealing with specimens of this bulk during our research season here in the Great White North.

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Ritz Carlton’s Natures Wonders

Just down the beach from where this gopher tortoise resides in the literally “richest” turtle property in the world, Sue spotted a new addition at the Ritz Carlton’s Natures Wonders display.  Is that a hatchling or perhaps a totem to encourage another record loggerhead nesting season on Vanderbilt Beach?

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