An Unexpected Encounter

Karen Hirst

To look down into the shallow water off the side of our dock on Three Mile Bay, White Lake and serendipitously discover this very prehistoric looking creature in our presence was a sighting beyond words.

It was unlikely that we could offer a just description in the retelling so with camera in hand and wanting to showcase the full scale of what was before us, I began snapping pictures.

A huge snapping turtle swam lazily in the water under the morning sunshine ….. with a large moss trailing encrusted shell and a long flat tail, a warty skin surface with large web like arms and legs ending in clawed hands and feet and hooded eyes protruding from either side of his elongated head and neck….he was truly a sight to behold.

Coming to the surface for air one could almost believe he was posing and providing me with time to focus the camera and attempt to capture his best angle.

A Google search states that the Snapping Turtle is the largest fresh water turtle in Canada. They have an average length of 20-36 cm, a weight of 4.5-16.0 kg. and have a large black, olive or brown shell covered with algae which aids in blending with their surroundings. Snapping turtles can live well over 100 years.They will bite or can lacerate the skin with their sharp claws if handled improperly. Snapping Turtles, although not designated as endangered are listed as of Special Concern in Ontario.

I was happy to witness this magnificent creature but was left very hesitant to venture back into the lake for a swim after knowing of his presence…at least not anytime soon!!!