Catching Baby Turtles


When I was in 4th or 5th grade we lived in Columbia, South Carolina not too far from one of those man-made subdivision lakes.1 Despite that, it had enough fish and reptiles to keep me very entertained. One of the memories that stuck in my mind from the couple of years we lived there was seeing, and eventually catching, baby turtles. I spent several hours lying on my stomach watching the turtles, inching forward, scaring them away, and then waiting again hoping they’d bob up somewhere within arms reach. If you’ve ever tried to spot a tiny turtle’s head in the midst of duckweed, green algae, and assorted pond flotsam (no jetsam)2 I felt pretty proud when I finally caught a few. I let them go and I washed my hands thoroughly when I got home.

This was the second year (non-consecutive) I remembered to do this with my kids. It’s one of those things that’s easy to forget but I love seeing my kids enjoying what I once did. Plus, it’s still fun for me as well. We end up looking a bit odd I’m sure as, once again, we’re using a subdivision pond not far from our house and we tend to go barefoot.

This year we caught two older and larger turtles. Both seemed to have heavy layers of algae growing on the shells3 which makes them pretty slippery. It’s also a surprise to grab a turtle like that for the first time because their first move is push hard with their legs against your hands. It’s one of those shock things, like a lizard biting you, that even when it doesn’t hurt you tend to react by dropping them. We lost one or two that way but got the hang of it pretty quickly.

No life lessons. No attempt to connect it to education. Just a pleasant time I wanted to document and officially letting you know it’s the right time of year (at least in VA) if you want to give it a shot alone or with kids.


Bigger turtle catch


1 It still amazes me that I can just link that in.

2 I do not refer to the official nautical law meanings. Consider this poetic license.

3 Ms. Carapace if you’re nasty.