Crocodiles, Turtles and Tortoises

A single gallery displays saltwater crocodiles’ images from Order Crocodilia together with turtles and tortoises placed in Order Testudines that I photographed in their natural habitats. See Taxonomy note at the end of this page.

Crocodiles, Turtles and Tortoises

Crocodile Notes

Saltwater Crocodiles are ‘Red List 2020’ assessed as ‘Least Concern’. Distribution is in the tropical regions from India to northern Australia. Habitat includes brackish and freshwater rivers, estuaries, swamps, lagoons and billabongs, they can tolerate high salinity seawater. They eat fish, birds and mammals, and grow to 8 m.

The first image is a female saltwater (estuarine) crocodile hauled out on a bank in the Yellow Water region of the Kakadu National Park. Yellow Water is part of the South Alligator River floodplain about 80 km from the north coast.

The other two crocodile photos are juveniles hauled out at the Buloh Besar River. The youngest juvenile was resting on a large tree trunk in the river. I estimate from focus distance and image in frame to be around 0.5 m. There is a small population, possibly as many as ten individuals, which inhabit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Kranji Reservoir and other Singapore rivers.

Turtle Notes

I photographed three of the seven extant marine turtle species in coastal waters or on the beaches of tropical islands where

I photographed three of the seven extant marine turtle species in coastal waters or on the beaches of tropical islands where females come ashore to nest. The ‘Red List 2020’ assessment of the hawksbill is ‘Critically Endangered’, the green turtle is ‘Endangered’, and leatherback is ‘Vulnerable’.

Hawksbill Turtle is one of my favourite reptile species. In Seychelles, the females come ashore during daylight hours to lay their eggs. They occupy all tropical oceans where they feed on toxic sponges.

Green Turtle I photographed several individuals from a zodiac and on the beaches on five Galápagos Islands. Some of my most memorable sightings were females visiting the beach to nest, individuals swimming and pairs mating. The locations included Punta Cormorant on Floreana, Playa Dorada and Sullivan Bay near Bartolome, the lagoon at Elizabeth Bay on Isabela, and Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela.

Leatherback Sea Turtle They are the largest turtle species, around 130 cm to 180 cm, and weigh 300 kg to 600 kg. Their diet is soft-bodied animals almost exclusively jellyfish. They have a worldwide distribution with females nesting at night on sandy tropical beaches.

The final images are species of snapping turtle and a slider (terrapins):

Saw-shelled Turtle is an Australian endemic. It has not been ‘Red List 2020’ assessed, but the IUCN/SCC (Species Survival Commission) Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) draft assessment is ‘Least Concern’.

Red-eared Slider [Terrapin] is a North American species introduced to South East Asia that I photographed in Singapore. It is known locally as a red-eared terrapin and characterised a successful invasive species.

Tortoise Notes

There are eleven endemic species of Galápagos Giant Tortoise, about half are ‘Red List 2020’ assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’, the others are ‘Endangered’ or ‘Vulnerable’. Two tortoise breeding centres rear young turtles in captivity and then release into the wild at around five years old. Visitors are only likely to see the three-wild dome-shelled species that I photographed.

‘Critically Endangered’ Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise at Rancho El Manzanillo in the western highlands. The ranch hosts the second-largest western species population, which is also the second-largest dome-shaped giant tortoise in the Galápagos.

The ‘Endangered’ San Cristóbal Giant Tortoise at Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve. The breeding grounds and education centre is vital to guarantee the long-term future of this species. The image is a young non-breeding individual roaming in the grounds.

‘Vulnerable’ Volcán Alcedo Giant Tortoise is one of five species found on Isabella Island.

Crocodile, Turtle and Tortoise Taxonomy

The Reptiles Photo Album webpage describes the higher-level taxonomy for the featured families placed in order Testudines (Turtles, Terrapins, Tortoises) and order Crocodilia (Crocodiles).

Crocodiles feature species from one family: Crocodylidae (Crocodiles).

Turtles, Terrapins and Tortoises feature species from five families:
(a) Cheloniidae (Sea Turtles),
(b) Dermochelyidae (Leatherback Sea Turtle),
(c) Chelydridae (Snapping Turtles),
(d) Emydidae (Sliders),
(e) Testudinidae (Tortoises).