Ocean Art 2022 - 2nd Place Marine Life Behavior

2nd Place Marine Life Behavior

Bryant Turffs

"Chew With Your Mouth Closed!"


Bryant Turffs won a 7 night trip to Saba or St. Kitts aboard the Caribbean Explorer II liveaboard!


The Story: I captured this image while exploring a freshwater spring and river in Florida. Although I set out looking for manatees, my attention was captured by this common snapping turtle. I spent several hours observing her at a respectful distance and moving in to make images now and again. This individual is apparently blind and did not seem to mind my presence. She went about her business alternately resting, breathing, and foraging. Eventually, she came across a dead flatfish, commonly known as a hog-choker. The fish’s name comes from the tendency for its spines to get caught in pigs throats when scavenged. The spines, however, were no match for this turtle. She positioned the fish in her mouth and began to scrape away the spines with her forelimbs, as depicted here. Once satisfied she swallowed the remaining fish whole. Common snapping turtles play an important role, scavenging carrion from aquatic ecosystems in the South Eastern United States. The species is, however, omnivorous, and will consume vegetation and live prey too. 

Encounters like this one reinforce, for me, the need to be a patient observer and keen explorer. This species was not my target on this day, and it took a prolonged period to capture this behavior. The image was made with balanced light to highlight the beautiful clear water and bring out the details of the subject itself. 

Location: Ocala, Florida, USA 

Equipment Used: Canon 7D Mark II, Tokina Fisheye Lens, Ikelite Housing, Dual Ikelite DS160 Strobes 

Camera Settings: ISO 800, F16, 1/125 sec


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