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  • Location: ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vermont, United States
  • Source: ECHO Leahy Center
  • Info: Live streaming webcam showing softshell and map turtles in an aquarium at the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Vermont, United States The turtles are over-wintering in the aquarium.

More info: ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, formerly the Lake Champlain Basin Science Center, is an innovative science and nature museum located on the Burlington waterfront in northern Vermont.
The Center partners with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department to give Spiny Softshell turtles and Map turtles a “headstart” on life in Lake Champlain. ECHO provides care over the winter for neonate turtles that were ‘extracted’ from their nests prematurely by predators, or neonates that were extracted or naturally emerged late in the fall when cold temperatures put them at grave risk if left on the beaches. As a threatened species in Vermont, with only 300 adult specimens estimated to live in the lake, the turtles that are a part of this program have better chances of survival in the wild. Every summer in June, ECHO invites the public to help release the bigger and stronger turtles back into the lake.

The Spiny softshell turtle is a medium-large freshwater turtle that is easily recognized by its shell, which is round, rather flat, leathery and can reach up to 54 centimetres long. It is also distinguished by its snorkel-like snout. The shell is soft, olive or tan in colour, with dark blotches and tiny spine projections along the front edge. The body is usually olive, brown or grey in colour. Spiny softshell turtles are highly aquatic turtles that rarely travel far from water. They are found primarily in rivers and lakes but also in creeks and even ditches and ponds near rivers.

Map turtles sometimes called sawback turtles, are freshwater turtles which are endemic to North America. The Northern Map Turtle has a slightly domed, smooth carapace (shell that covers the back) that may have a strong central keel. A close look at their gray-green carapace reveals curved off-white lines that resemble topographic lines on a map – hence their name. The rear edge of their carapace is both toothed and flared. The plastron (shell covering their belly) is wide and usually pale yellow. The Northern Map Turtle inhabits rivers and lakeshores where it basks on emergent rocks and fallen trees throughout the spring and summer. In winter, the turtles hibernate on the bottom of deep, slow-moving sections of water.