So Aztec –  the stylish lines and spikey shell of The Mississippi Map Turtle. Photo and copyright C.Paxton. Image captured on Panasonic Lumix GX8 with Lumix G Vario 100-300mm lens and cropped.

Turtle lovers amongst you will agree, I think, that the Mississippi Map Turtle (Graptemys kohnii) has one of the most striking appearances. These are very cool little creatures with their striped leggings and physiognomies and their saw-backed shells, most pronounced in juveniles, as pictured above. They can grow to 10 inches according to Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana, and are known to feed upon vegetation, crustaceans, water insects and molluscs. We have seen them in sloughs off Bayou D’Arbonne, in the Tensas River and in Corney Creek and they never cease to delight us with their perky basking attitudes and wild stares. In Tensas River NWR we saw an adult with juvenile swimming together


Basking on Corney Creek, this Mississippi Map Turtle maintains a powerful grip with its clawed feet, here pictured seconds before it dived from the log. Panasonic Lumix Fz70. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

and delighted at seeing them side by side. Their light blue eyes can deliver a very penetrating stare!

They are well known for being quite hard to approach, but you can spot them from bridges and can glide up to within 20 ft of them in a kayak which is usually close enough for a good picture.

Mississippi Map Turtle swimming in Tensas River. C. Paxton image and copyright.

Mississippi Map Turtle swimming in Tensas River. C. Paxton image and copyright.

No payment was received for this article. Charles Paxton is currently enrolled on courses at the New York Institute of Photography.