|Imagine how much turtle soup you could make. Photo by Tiffany Frost|
Terry Frost of Dardanelle, Arkansas made an impressive catch in his hoop net in the Arkansas River earlier this year. Alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) can be a nuisance to fisherman who use set lines or hoop nets to catch fish, although they usually drown by the time they are discovered. Frost found this particular turtle alive and well, although it "wasn't the most cooperative creature I have encountered," he said.
"I have heard old-timers tell stories about loggerheads (alligator snappers) with stove-pipe heads all my life, always wondering if they were true or a little truth and a lot of the old-timers' memory getting bigger and better with time," said Frost. Apparently the old-timers were telling the truth!
Alligator snappers are found in rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. They are the largest freshwater turtle in the U.S., with the heaviest snapper on record weighing 250 pounds. Frost estimates that his catch was around 150 pounds. Many states now protect these turtles due to the over-hunting for meat markets that occurred in the 1970's.
One unique feature of the snapper is that it has a fleshy, worm-like appendage in its mouth that it uses to lure in fish and small turtles for food.
"I will say that any intentions I ever had of noodling catfish has since been permanently erased from my bucket list," said Frost, who released the turtle back into the river unharmed.
|Image courtesy of Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne|