Sun-bathing Taricayasby Tom Ambrose
These two herptiles are Yellow-spotted river turtles (Podocnemis unifilis), locally known in this part of SE Peru as Taricayas. They pull themselves out onto logs along the edges of rivers and lakes to sun-bathe. Their diet consists mainly of plant material, and of that mostly grass, nibbled from the sides of rivers and lakes where they live. Their population levels have been declining for years, due to over-harvesting of their eggs, which are considered a delicacy all over the Amazon, and thus are classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. When adult, they are preyed upon by jaguars. The butterflies sitting on their noses are Dryas iulia, a common species here, and are making the most of an opportunity to drink the salty liquid from the eyes and nostrils of the turtles. Salt (Sodium and Potassium) is a scare resource in the Amazon rainforest.
The image was taken by Fauna Forever's ex-Bird Team Coordinator, Tom Ambrose, on the Las Piedras River in Madre de Dios, Peru. Tom is now a professional photographer and divides his time between the US and UK. Check out some of his other great images on his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tomambrosephotography