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Giant River Turtle
Podocnemis expansa

Along with many fishes, giant river turtles invade the forest in high-water season to gorge on fruits, seeds, and insects. Then, as the waters recede, the usually solitary turtles migrate as far as 27 miles along river channels to converge on newly exposed sandy river beaches. They mate in the water, then large numbers of females lumber ashore to dig nests in the sand and lay 80 to 90 round white eggs. The hatchlings emerge about 48 days later, just as the rains come and the river begins to rise.

The giant river turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. Females have an average shell length of 2 feet and typically weight 45 to 55 pounds, although they can reach 100 pounds. Males are much smaller. Historically people have hunted the big turtles for their meat and taken their eggs, either for consumption or for oil. The meat and eggs also sell for high prices in urban areas. Because the females nest in large colonies, they are easy targets for overexploitation. The sombination of killing reproductive females and emptying their nests has decimated turtle populations in some areas, and the river turtles are ranked as an endangered species.

From Amazon Rising: Seasons of the River. Shedd Aquarium

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