- I'm so tempted to just dive and go for it.
The last thing you want is to get your hand inside the mouth
of a hundred pound gargantuan, prehistoric reptile
The dark swampy waters of Southeast Texas conceal
many mysterious predators
but nothing is more impressive than the reptile
you're about to witness.
Hailing as the largest freshwater turtle
in North America,
this species is shrouded in folklore,
and the stories they spark
are famous for igniting a status
that is considered legendary.
The alligator snapping turtle reigns
as the Dragon of Texas.
I have teamed up with Carl and Viviana of Texas Turtles.
This conservation group is on the front lines
of protecting our shelled friends.
No matter the species, they love turtles.
For several days
we have been working under special permits
to catch and record
this location's resident gator snapper population.
Using a safe method known as hoop netting,
we have had some incredible success,
landing a variety of algae covered swamp monsters.
By now we know the famous phrase,
everything is bigger in Texas
and the turtles are no exception,
which means that some nets simply aren't big enough,
and that is where I come into play.
Get ready, this episode is about to get wild.
Okay, I'm checking and that is close to the edge right here.
I think we've got a turtle.
It's moving, this net is moving right here.
All right I'm gonna pull it up and take a look.
No, it was outside of the net,
big turtle right outside of the net.
No, there it goes.
And now he is back off and into the swamp.
That is a very large snapping turtle out there.
The water's too deep into murky,
I can't see anything.
I'm so tempted to just, just dive and go for it.
Dangerous thing about doing something like that is
without being able to see which end of the turtle
is the front end of the turtle,
the last thing you want
is to get your hand into the mouth
of a hundred pound gargantuan prehistoric reptile.
The turtle is Sitting right there.
I see his head,
he's coming up right here.
He's right there.
I'm gonna make a jump.
Oh, yeah, that is how you jump in
to catch a gargantuan snapping turtle.
If at first you don't catch it with the trap,
you wait just a few seconds longer
and the turtle will return to the bait
all the way under water.
And that is the only way
that I have learned to catch snapping turtles.
No nets, no traps, no problem.
Whoa, buddy, that is a good turtle right there.
Okay, I'm coming up, watch your feet.
That is one powerful reptile right there.
And a turtle with jaws that size
can definitely take off your hand.
The second I went under water,
my hand slid down the side of his carapace,
I was like, please get to the backside of this turtle
and don't let your hand and up in those jaws.
Yes, yes, we have ourselves
a really good-looking alligator snapping turtle.
How about that?
A little bit of patience is all it took,
and I knew,
I knew you were gonna come back for that bait,
but you didn't think I'd be waiting, did ya?
If you can go run and get Carl had Viviana,
I'll stay here with the turtle.
We'll get these biometrics.
And there you have it.
That is a true prehistoric giants.
The alligator snapping turtle,
the reptile that we have been searching for
and safely trapping with the hoop nets
for the past couple of days.
Now, we've caught a couple of smaller turtles
but nothing so far of this size.
And truth be told, like I said,
during the process of that all unfolding,
this turtle wasn't actually quite in the net yet.
So jumping into the water to catch it,
ended up being the right tactic.
But the thing about this turtle
that makes it so unique is just it's prehistoric design.
Look at this creature, covered in algae,
and a mouth that certainly means business.
Now, one of the big differences
between the alligator snapping turtle
and the common snapping turtle is the reach of that head.
While the skull may be massive
and the spread of those jaws incredible,
and the power definitely strong enough
to take off a finger or crush a hand,
it doesn't quite have the reach
of the common snapping turtle.
So me being this close to this turtle,
I don't feel as if I'm in danger in any way, shape or form.
And one of the most fascinating aspects
about the alligator snapping turtle
is actually the way that it hunts.
This is considered an ambush predator
as compared to the common snapping turtle,
which I would say is much more nematic.
All this reptile needs to do is lay on a body of water
and wait for its prey to come to it.
If you zoom in on the underside of that jaw there,
you can see that little fleshy appendage moving around,
it looks just like a worm.
Now, this is called lingual luring.
Turtle will lay and wait, wiggled that worm,
and if fish would get close thinking,
Oh, look at this, I found an easy meal.
But it's exactly the opposite,
the fish gets close,
the snapping turtle clamps down its jaws.
And the fish went from potential predator to prey item.
At this size, the only threat
that a turtle of this magnitude faces is human interaction.
The alligator snapping turtle
is considered a protected species,
which means it is illegal to go out
and catch, harass or interact with these reptiles
unless you have the proper permits.
However, that doesn't stop people
from poaching these reptiles.
They're oftentimes traded on the black market
in the pet trade, but also the food trade.
Believe it or not, this turtle is the origin of turtle soup.
So we have to work collectively, all of us,
to make sure that the protections stay in place
to keep these prehistoric looking reptiles
safe here on our planet.
I absolutely love the carapace of these turtles.
Now, as compared to the common snapping turtle,
the alligator snapping turtle
has these very distinct ridges
that run the length of its body.
Now, not only do they look cool
and they gave them their namesake
the alligator snapping turtle,
because when they come to the surface,
it almost looks like the back of alligator,
but they have functionality.
During storm surge and hurricane season
that the water levels change quickly,
this turtle is capable of wedging itself down
in between logs.
It will essentially lock itself in place
to make sure that it does not move
from the territory that it is currently protecting.
And when you look at it,
it's got all this algae and even little worms
and leeches crawling around on it.
There's an ecosystem existing on the back of this reptile.
One thing that I do love
about these turtles is their eyes.
Look at that black and gold focused,
all those little fleshy little particles of skin
growing off of them.
And that helps to keep these animals camouflage under water.
And you can see the algae
that's growing on that turtle's face,
it really looks like a rock
when it's laying on the basin of a body of water,
waiting for its prey to get close.
Looking inside that mouth,
that's probably about as close as I wanna get.
And you'll notice there's a hole
that keeps opening up inside its mouth there,
that's actually the way that this turtle breathes.
That little hole connects to the roof of its skull,
which then connects to its nostrils,
and that's how they're able to come up above the water,
take a quick breath without opening their mouth.
That also helps them when they're in the process of eating,
to make sure that no water goes down and into their lungs.
Okay, I'd say that this turtle is about ready
to get back into the water.
So it's time to do the important work.
I'm gonna bring in Carl and Viviana from Texas Turtles,
and we're going to collect the necessary data that they need
to make sure that this turtle is properly documented.
All right, guys, you ready to pull the biometrics?
Let's do it.
Catching is fun, but the most important aspect
to Carl and Viviana's research is the biometrics.
Head width is taken first, followed by carapace
and plastron lengths.
Next, a PIT tag,
which stands for Passive Integrated Transponder
is quickly inserted.
No, this is not a tracking chip,
but instead is an identification tag
that can quickly be scanned to ID this turtle,
if it is caught again in the future.
Think of it kind of like a turtles social security number.
Last but certainly not least is my favorite part,
the turtles weight.
This big boy isn't going to set any world record,
but it does boast being the biggest turtle we caught
on this round of research
Yes, that is a good size turtle,
that's for sure.
I give you a look at the scale there
With the biometrics complete,
this turtle is now ready for release.
Well, it's officially time to release
this prehistoric behemoth back into the wild,
but before I do, I just wanna give
a big thanks to Texas Turtles for allowing us
to assist in the important research that they've been doing
to help preserve the alligator snapping turtle.
I'm Coyote Peterson,
be brave, stay wild.
We'll see you on the next adventure.
Around the world, turtles are under threat.
And as I mentioned earlier,
there is no collective species
that is considered more in danger
than our shell covered friends.
The work Carl and Viviana do through Texas Turtles
on a year round basis
is not only about collecting data.
It's about spreading a message of change
and fostering and understanding
that turtles play a crucial role
in the natural ecosystem.
Illegal poaching, black market trade and habitat destruction
are only three of the biggest threats turtles face.
And until we get protections in place
for all turtle species, they will always be at risk.
Brave Wilderness continues to drive
a narrative about turtle conservation
and why it is so important,
that I encourage you to get involved.
If you love turtles and want to help,
check out the links we suggest
in the video description below.
Pick one of the turtle conservation groups
and make a donation.
Share their site on your social media
or reach out and ask how you can get involved.
The world is a better place because of turtles.
So let's make sure that as humans,
we create a better future for this species.
Hey, Coyote pack.
If you love turtles,
make sure to go back and watch the episode
where we worked alongside the World Wildlife Fund
to promote the conservation of green sea turtles.
And don't forget, subscribe and join memberships,
so you can be a part of the pack
on our next wild adventure.