Apalone spinifera — Spiny Softshell
Subspecies I've seen:
A. s. emoryi
Texas Spiny Softshell
Apalone spinifera emoryi — Texas Spiny Softshell
The San Pedro river is one of the few sources of fresh water that flows year round in the deserts of southern Arizona. These softshell turtles are among the many species that take advantage of this. We saw a number of these turtles at a distance, basking on logs or flat rocks or the sandy river bank. They all softly plopped into the water when we got anywhere near though.
Monica and I were admiring the powerful voice of Victor was serenading us from across the Rio Grande when I noticed something reflective on the other side. "Hmm," thought I, "that looks turtlesque." And indeed it was. Closer inspection revealed that the shiny Apalone spinifera emoryi was sharing a rock with a considerably less reflective Trachemys gaigeae gaigeae. The softshell, apparently annoyed by my camera despite the fact that I was an international border away, slowly meandered over to the muddy water and slipped in. The slider didn't bother moving.
Since this turtle was in the middle of the river, I had to struggle to answer the critical question of whether it was a Texas, USA sighting or a Coahuila, Mexico sighting. After several consecutive seconds of struggle, I decided to place it in Texas, mainly because I had already seen the previously-pictured softshell that was clearly in Mexico.
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Brennan, T. C. and Holycross, A. T. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona
- Conant, R., Collins, J. T. 1998. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition, expanded
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Ernst, C. H., Barbour, R. W. 1989. Turtles of the World
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition