Lifescapes Gallery

10 / Mar / 2010
A turtle by any other name…
Indian Pond Terrapin, Kabini Photograph: Dr. Ajit Huilgol Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

A turtle by any other name…

So what’s in a name? After all, a turtle is a tortoise is a terrapin! But not if you were Australian. Down under, they only have tortoises, irrespective of where they’re from. In America, tortoises own the land and all aquatic tenants are called turtles. The British, finicky as ever, have the naming down to an exact science. While the landed gentry are true blue tortoises, the others have to wait till the waters have been tested (or tasted). Even a hint of salt means they’re turtles, while freshwater denizens like those featured above, are no less than terrapins. The ‘Indian Pond Terrapin’ doesn’t have an identity crisis though. Since he doesn’t mind being called names, he also responds if we were to call him an ‘Indian Black Turtle’. He could show off his wholly webbed feet and make a point about how this distinguishes him from tortoises, but he’s too good natured to do so. All he wants is his rightful place in the sun, to bask in the warmth of the early rays and the company of his fellow terrapins. In fact, he’s known to be so social and generous that he even allows his comrades to park on top of him, to catch the life giving rays first. Once he’s drunk his fill of sunshine, he slips away beneath the waters, to chill out till nightfall, which is when he sets out to dine at his vegetarian buffet. Don’t be too perturbed if you aren’t invited to dinner, for this is a very shy lad indeed. Perhaps the best way to make his acquaintance is to send him flowers from your part of the world. After all, like the Bard of Avon said long ago, a Rose by any other name smells as sweet.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 at 9:45 am and is filed under Reptiles . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Ashok Ponnappa says:

    Kudos to the “Lifescapes” team……..excellent pics & photo-essays. Worth waiting for & passing on to family & friends! May I request the team to publish the name of the essay writer who does poetic justice to these wonderful pics, please?

  2. Jagadish.B.Machimanda says:

    In my estate I see many tortoises. But this is a wonderful photo of a group of tortoises, thanks to Orange county lifescapes for the great picture and write up.

  3. shivani says:

    I am in awe of that picture.
    Do let us know how we can work together .
    We would love to publish these stories and facts along with the pictures.. in our magazine for animal lovers
    its called – furs, fins and feathers.

  4. GANESH HR says:

    very good photo. just mind blowing…Dr. Ajith Huilgol sir. God bless you!

    thanks & regards

    Ganesh HR Orange county coorg naturalist,

  5. Raghupathi Reddy says:

    excellent photography,no words to express

  6. Benia Varghese says:

    A awesome Photography and commentary.. Just got to know the differences…. Turtle Vs Tortoise… Thanx Orange County for the Lifescapes

  7. Satish Sharma says:

    Ahhh…the one bright spot of coming back from a self imposed net exile. Browsing thru the back issues of this wonderful periodical:-)
    Love the photos, as usual, and am blown away by the way your writers have brought it to life.
    The Terrapin issue let me dream beyond the ‘terra’. The Damselfly gave me wings…anyway enough said…i have more back issues to get back to. 🙂

  8. Michelle Cherian says:

    Just thought I would quickly write in and tell you what a wonderful job you guys are doing, I really love the pictures, the titles, the little write up, and look forward to every new one that lands in my box, its clear that you guys love what you do, comes out in the awesome pictures, the titles and the writing.
    We even used this for an informal team building event, asked team members to give the photos a title and then shared your website with them!

  9. Krishnan Narayanan says:

    Great picture! The writing is whimsical, irreverent, informative all at one go! keep up the good work.

  10. Asha Raj says:

    I love Gmail. I love the fact that the ‘Select UNREAD’ button is so conveniently placed just below the DELETE one when I open my choked inbox.
    Spam, as you see, is no longer a problem (All Hail the G-Mail…) and it’s a simple skim, click, click to a nice, clean inbox.
    One day, however, almost feeling sorry for the spammers and banished their communication into virtual oblivion, the header of one ‘spam’ mail caught my eye – “The Chameleon that ate a Deer”
    Now, I’m wild about wildlife (excuse the pun); I started photography so that I could take pictures of animals, I started writing because I wanted people to pledge to ‘Save the Whales’…but this headline would have been as intriguing to anyone I think.
    Just before you start wondering when I’m going to stop rambling and get to the point, I’m going to do just that. 🙂
    LIFESCAPES is sheer brilliance. I love finding it in my inbox and I honestly wish it was there more often (hint hint). While the photographs are great, I’m sure that the NatGeo enthusiasts (and similar) are used to seeing this kind of great quality. What really blows me away though, is the writing.
    Now, I’m a writer and admittedly, we tend to be the narcissistic sort who finds it very hard to believe that there exists another who writes better (believe you me, this is true though we rarely acknowledge it…we’re diplomatic too).
    That said, I’m sure you can now comprehend my true admiration and lofty praise for the writer of your photo-essays. Aside from being a visual treat, they are a greater delight to read.
    Honestly guys, I can’t thank you enough for making wildlife so interesting to the layman and I hope that this unique series receives all the attention and accolades that it so truly deserves.
    Kudos to the writer and the whole team!

  11. Vikram Nanjappa - Chief Naturalist Orange County , Kabini says:

    Adding some more facts – The Indian Pond Terrapin, the commonest and most widespread among the 4 species found in India, prefers slow – flowing or sedentary waters. Young are more thoroughly aquatic than adults, which are semi terrestrial. Often seen basking on rocks and logs, they slip into the water at the least sign of danger. Several may live together in a convenient hideout under rocks or a hole in the bank, or submerged tree trunks etc. They swim in a scrambling manner, each limb working independently. They have scent glands which emit a strong and very disagreeable odour when the animal is disturbed. They forage on land at night, the food being largely vegetarian. Eggs, white in colour, and hard shelled are laid during late monsoon months, in clutches of 3 to 8 in holes dug by the female on land well above the water line. Several clutches may be laid in a season and hatch approx. two months after laying.

  12. Roopa Thimmaiah says:

    Very very sweet photograph. I simply loved it. The article on it was so well written. Thanks for it.

  13. Medha Wadke says:

    Excellent initiatives that has been taken from your TEAM.
    We appreciate your responsible approach.

  14. Ajit Vasudevan says:

    Awesome work! My eyes light up every time I see this article from Orange County. Looking forward to a visit some time in the future….

  15. MINAL DALVI says:

    I simply love the info as mush as i luv the photos & m preserving all of them for my grandchildren. Amongst all the mails that i receive, i open yr mails with much alacrity.

  16. Diwakaran Nair says:

    Ahhh…a perfect way to begin a wednesday.
    Mind blowing photography. And a lovely story to take you along.
    A rose is a rose, but anyday Lifescapes smells sweeter to me:-)

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