Saturday, January 23, 2010

Where Do The Fosdic Lake Turtles Go When It's Cold?

I have wondered more than once, and mentioned at least once, my puzzlement over where the dozens of turtles who call Fosdic Lake, in Oakland Lake Park, in Fort Worth, home, go when the temperature turns cold, as in below freezing?

Well, this morning I got an email that is purporting to answer that question. I have no idea as to the veracity of what this emailer is telling me, as in some of it sounds a bit far fetched.

The emailer's email was very long and detailed. I'll try a write a distilled version. Here goes...

Turtles who live where the temperatures dip below freezing and where snow may fall have mechanisms to keep themselves alive. They hibernate. Since turtles are reptiles the proper term for deep sleeping is "brumate," as in reptiles brumate, mammals hibernate. But most people use "hibernate" to refer to how turtles get through the cold. So, that's the word we'll use.

Various types of turtles do their hibernating in various ways. Most water turtles go deep into the water and wiggle themselves into some lake bottom mud. As the turtle gets colder its body slows down to the point that eating is no longer neccessary. The turtle's heart slows down to one beat every few minutes.

The turtle stops breathing through its lungs. Due to the slowed metabolism little oxygen is needed. What little oxygen the turtle needs it can get from the water via specialized skin cells that are inside the tail opening.

So, turtles hibernate under water and breathe through their tails. Supposedly a turtle can keep living this way for 2 or 3 months.

I wonder how the turtles are able to tell it's warmed up on the surface?

I was walking around Fosdic Lake on a warm day that had arrived after a deep freeze and the turtles were out having themselves a good time sunning themselves on logs.


Jovan Gonzales said...

I want to know where ducks go when the water freezes. Damn Catcher in the Rye. I never even wanted to know until reading that book. Turtles are kind of like those frogs then. The ones that literally freeze. They have natural antifreeze in their blood. They have to literally thaw out in the spring, hahahaha. Maybe the ducks just fly to a nice, warm patch of tall grasses?

Durango said...

I've seen what the Fosdic Lake ducks do when it's freezing. They all sort of huddle together on the water, real close, and move in a circle. It's very strange. I've seen 3 groups doing this at the same time. All circling counter-clockwise.

Jovan Gonzales said...

DANGO! I love you. You just answered one of the most annoying questions I've ever had. Thanks. So since penguins do it, lots of other birds must as well. Hrm...

Durango said...

Very coincidental, I just got back from Fosdic Lake where I saw 4 duck groups doing their group huddle thing, thought of your question and took a pic or two. To be blogged later.