It's not everyday that you go fishing and catch a dinosaur, but Texan Justin Broomhall has the photos to prove it after a Father's Day fishing trip ended with an unexpected catch.
Broomhall caught this massive reptile while fishing in Lake Cherokee. Texas Game Warden Kirk Clendening also confirmed it was indeed an alligator snapping turtle, a threatened species in Texas. The anglers took multiple photos and video displaying the turtle's massive size, and they instantly went viral after hitting social media. After taking the photos, Broomhall took the time to remove the hook from the turtle's mouth.
"I've seen bunches of people leave hooks, and rope and stuff in the water and I've seen turtles drown from them, seen fish drown from them, snakes," Broomhall told CBS19 News. After removing the hook, he released the turtle back into the lake.
Alligator snappers are known for their longevity, but exactly how long live is still a bit of a mystery. Captive specimens have lived for more than 70 years. However, scientists theorize they can reach 200 years old in the wild. The one Broomhall caught was estimated to be at least 100 years old.
Alligator snapping turtles have been documented up over the 200-pound mark several times in the past, although most found are in the 20- to 100-pound range. Broomhall didn't have a scale handy, so there's no way to be sure how much his catch weighed. He did note that many people who saw the turtle on social media were a bit skeptical of the size.
"On Tik Tok and Facebook, everybody was saying it was photoshopped," Broomhall told CBS 19. "I'm telling you God honest truth it was the biggest turtle I'd ever seen."
In case you were wondering, wildlife officials say Broomhall did the right thing by releasing the turtle back into the lake. The species is threatened in Texas, and as a result they are protected against harvest or possession. Many neighboring states have similar laws protecting these ancient reptiles. Whenever they are accidentally caught by fishermen, they must be released back into the wild.
Thanks to Broomhall and his buddies who helped him document this catch, we get to get a good look at this once in a lifetime alligator snapping turtle.
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