Tuesday, June 22, 2010
On Mondays We Catch Reptiles!
It was Monday evening, and in a very impromptu fashion I decided to head out to scout a location we are preparing to shoot at next week, the Ohio State Wetlands Research Marshes. I was flying this mission solo but decided to bring the camera gear with me so that I could shoot some B-Roll footage of the environment and possibly some other animals that I might come across. Knowing all the while that the scenario which arose... was all too possible. The OSU marshes are a labryinth of board walks that rise 5 feet above the water...this creates a very awesome perspective visually and a real advantage for finding reptiles because you can cover an incredible amount of ground without disturbing the water. Long story short...at the far end of the marsh I happened upon a very large Common Snapping Turtle that was floating just below the surface. The Beast had not seen me and was quietly waiting for an unsuspecting fish or Bull Frog tadpole to swim its way across the path of his enormous jaws. Little did he know...I was setting up the camera in an attempt to film myself making a solo catch. After some careful and daring balancing acts to get the camera stable on the 1 ft wide platform I gathered up my adrenaline rush and leapt down into the murky abyss to catch the Beast. In a fight against knee deep mud an infestation of leeches and a 35 lb turtle I worked my way back to a larger platform(seen in the pictures below)...all while managing to carry the camera and talk about what I was doing. Luckily the footage turned out great, I didn't drop the camera in the marsh, and I enjoyed an evening photographing and filming a beautiful Monday evening Mud Monster! Here are a few of the best pictures...
This snapper is a male...his Carapace measured 14 inches and he weighed 35lbs...a very healthy boy, which tells me that there is a plentiful food supply in these marshes.
One of the greatest moments of this whole catch actually happened off camera. I had to change tapes and when I went to my pack to get a new tape my back was turned for literally 2 seconds, and in this amount of time the turtle attacked me. I had to jump backward and in doing so fell 5 feet off of the board walk and into the 2 foot deep water...then, just as I was regaining my balance the turtle lunged off of the board walk at me and into the water. He nearly got away...but I managed to find him again just as he was muscling off into the muck. It was a heart racing moment...and a good one for the memory books...
At one point I looked at my hands and arms and realized they were covered in leeches. I had to spend almost 15 minutes pulling them off and then tried to pull some off of the turtle who was covered in the nasty parasites! He was very calm during the leech removal...I kind of feel like he understood that I was helping him out.
The nose and beak on this monster was massive...one of the biggest and thickest beaks I have seen on a turtle this size...getting your finger or hand trapped in there would be a very painful lesson to learn.
Its always great to see that an animal like this, despite the leeches, is very healthy. I guessed that this particular turtle was around 20-25 years in age...with the protected environment he lives in...the potential to grow into a 60 year old monster of the mud is very feasible.
I'm Coyote Peterson and this...is The REPTILE Show!