The Florida Softshell Turtle is a species of American Freshwater Turtles, a native of the Southeastern United States and one of the 26 species of turtles found in Florida . It is found all around the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. They prefer slow-moving fresh water bodies that have sand or mud bottoms but will utilize brackish water, often near the mouths of small rivers or streams. They are large turtles, with the adult females being up to 24" in length, twicw that of an adult male. Softshell Turtles can weigh up to 40 pounds and if one of these mistakes your bait / lure for it's next meal, you are in for quite a fight.

It gets it's name from the fact that it's shell is leathery, covered with skin and soft around the edges. This turtle is made for the water and very awkward when on land. It has strong, webbed feet ending in sharp claws which are great for swimming. They have a long nose that sticks up above the water's surface when they are floating. Often, the nose is the only thing you see as it acts like a snorkel for this turtle. Keep a lookout on the water's surface and for these turtles making their way from water body to water body, especially during this rainy time of the year.

Softshell turtles are a preferred meal by alligators in Southwest Florida and I have photographed that several times. The turtle in this photo is leisurely crossing the 18th fairway at The Sanctuary and taking in some sunshine.