Juvenile turtle clearly showing the distinctive V-shaped marking along the humeral scutes of the plastron.
Endemic to rivers and springs with moderate flow and ample aquatic vegetation along Florida's gulf coast between the Ochlockonee River west of Tallahassee and the Alafia River near Tampa Bay.
Yearling turtle captured and released during an ongoing study of turtle populations in the Santa Fe River system in north central Florida. This river and it's surrounding springs likely holds the last remaining healthy population of Suwannee Cooters in the world. Excessive local removal of groundwater from the Florida aquifer for municipal use coupled with siltation from road and agricultural runoff drastically reduces river water clarity, blocking out sunlight essential for photosynthesis by the aquatic plants that comprise the turtles' primary diet. While several groups are working to revitalize the springs that keep the river system healthy, community education and better water management strategies remain the most important factors in ensuring the long term health of this remarkable ecosystem and the ultimate survival of this species.