The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission just caught some truly massive turtles!
The alligator snapping turtle is an incredible predator. These ancient beasts probably laughed as they watched the dinosaurs come and go from this planet. They are true survivors with a fearsome appearance, gaping, sharp jaws and a real attitude problem. These animals are known to easily reach 100 years of age. Despite of all their anti-social features, people seem to love them just the same.
Showing that we truly do not know everything about these ancient creatures, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission helped with the discovery of a new subspecies of the alligator snapper in 2014, the Suwannee alligator snapper. The species was previously known to exist, it was simply mistaken for the regular alligator snapper until researchers took a closer look.
The FWC's Fish and Wildlife Institute recently blew up their social media feeds when they decided to share photos of a recent trapping expedition for this interesting reptile. They were quite surprised when they pulled some truly giant specimens, one of which topped 100 pounds! You can see more of the photos in their Facebook post below.
This week our biologists were out checking traps set for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, Macrochelys...
The FWC's post says that FWC and Florida researchers were working on a collaborative effort with scientists from Georgia to further study Suwannee populations. They used special hoop net traps to make the captures. The species is considered threatened and was so named because it has only been found in the Suwannee River that crosses the border between the two states.
Officials say one of the captured turtles was a jaw-dropping 100-pound male. In the trap with him was an equally impressive 46-pound female. From the photos, they do not look very happy about having been captured! Still another trap produced an equally large 64-pound male.
The scientists will now have much to ponder as the spot these turtles were captured was in a blackwater stream. This type of stream is one that is often stained with tannins from decaying vegetation. They also have low nutrients compared to other rivers. This basically means there probably was not a lot of food there for the turtles, which likely led to some head scratching as to why the animals were there in the first place.
The FWC ensured worried people on social media that the turtles were later released back into the stream from where they came after the researchers had collected data on the animals.