Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Turtle, A Leech and Me

Painted turtles sunning on a log along the edge of the Polly Ann Trail
photos by Jonathan Schechter
 A leech firmly attached to the back of a female painted turtle that was crossing the trail.

I try not to pick sides when it comes to the endless dual of predators and prey; those
 that kill and those who are killed. Roles often reverse and there are no good animals or bad animals in the world of nature.
 Naturalists know not to mess with Mother Nature.
This time I did.

I was cycling on the Polly Ann Trail midway between the towns of Oxford and Leonard (Michigan) when I came upon a small pond covered in duckweed.  And on a sun-soaked log turtles jostled - as quickly as a turtle can jostle - for their best sunning positions.  At the edge of the trail a lone turtle started her trek across the trail most likely searching for an egg-laying site in warm moist soil. On her back a firmly attached leech.
 I used a stick to scrape the hitchhiking blood-sucker from her shell and let the turtle continue her trek. The leech  was left on the trail where it most certainly died in the dust, without me giving it any more thought than a quick swat to a mosquito on my neck.
Perhaps it was the unthought connection about blood sucking animals that led to my swift action.
We are better than that. We kill. Then we eat.


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