Strolling along the Georgetown waterfront yesterday, I noticed this scaly, slime-colored creature being tossed around by the swollen waters of the Potomac River:
It was paddling toward the boardwalk I stood on, and was having a rough time of it, too. But a few minutes later it was close enough to photograph its knobby, completely unlovable mug from up close:
Good lord! That thing looks like it wants to eat the camera. More likely, though, is that it just needed a breather from being flotsam on the raging Potomac. That is not the normal habitat for many brackish swamp-loving turtles. (Please pay no attention to the idiot thumb over the lens corner. It belongs to someone else.)
What kind of herp is this? Well, I know it's not an Eastern River Cooter because it's not that cute. And it's probably not an Eastern Musk Turtle, also known as a “Stinkpot,” because I didn't smell “fetid odor.” (God bless you, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.) Let's take one more look:
I'd say with its knobby shell and long, spiky dinosaur tail, this critter looks about right for an Eastern Snapping Turtle, Maryland's largest freshwater turtle. It eventually lost its grip on that piece of driftwood and was sucked under the boardwalk where, for all I know, it still lurks. Ducklings, beware.