The creature was spotted and recorded in the Mississippi River, but authorities have assured the public not to worry.
What would you have done if you saw this giant beast in the water, only a few feet away from you?
Read on to find out how this woman reacted and why she never expected her story to get this popular.
Shala Holm is a Buffalo, Minnesota native. Shala encountered a huge snapping turtle months ago, but it is only recently that her picture has gone viral.
The picture shows the turtle’s large claws reaching toward a net filled with fish, its Godzilla-like head leading the way. It is clear that this turtle is larger than most from the image alone.
Shala was with her family on their annual vacation at Niemeyer’s Rugged River Resort near Brainerd this past summer. Holm was in a tandem kayak with her daughter when they first encountered the animal.
“My daughter all of a sudden said, ‘Mom, be quiet. I can hear something breathing,’” Holm recounted.
When Holm turned to look for something more typical at the shore, she was startled to see the turtle’s nose moving towards a fish basket that hung from their kayak.
“He kind of clawed onto it,” she said. “He was so big, and we were so startled.”
To scare off the turtle, Holm shook the basket until it swam away.
Curious if they could find it again to catch a photo, the mother and daughter came back to the spot the next day in their kayak. They passed the time catching fish until the turtle returned.
“When you’re in a kayak, the beauty of it is you’re really close to the water,” Holm said. “So we were really quite close.”
The mother and daughter were not sure of the exact size of the reptile in the water, but were fairly certain it was a snapping turtle and that its legs were roughly the size of Holm’s wrists.
According to the State Department of Natural Resources, adult snapping turtles average 8 to 14 inches long and weigh from 10 to 35 pounds. The biggest turtle recorded in Minnesota was an impressive 65 pounds!
Shala sent the picture to the DNR for more information. They believed the turtle was at least 15 years of age, but could even be 30 years old.
Shala’s photo went viral after the resort owners decided to post it on their Facebook page. Corby and Sheila Niemeyer are the resort owners, and they have watched as the post gained thousands of shares and almost a thousand comments. Sheila has even been contacted by media outlets interested in the story.
“Most of them are like, is this really real?” she said. “It really is.”
According to the resort owner, the resort’s location is on a quiet, slow section of the Mississippi north of Brainerd. They often see a variety of local wildlife there.
“Every June, we get a lot of turtles coming up on shore and they’re laying their eggs,” she said. “It’s one of the things we love is watching the turtles. So this was pretty crazy to see a big one like that.”
While many Facebook users have commented about staying out of the water, Sheila has explained that it’s not as dangerous as it looks.
“I think if you were to really look at any lake or river, you’re going to find all kinds of things you never thought of,” she said. “They leave you alone. They don’t want to be by you.”
In fact, she is hoping that the popularity of the post will help them to get more guests at their resort.
“I’m hoping it won’t be something negative because they think. ‘Oh my gosh, I’ll never go there. I don’t want to swim with that,’” she said. “For the most part, I don’t think you need to worry about that. But seeing the wildlife is just amazing.”
According to Erica Hoaglund, regional nongame wildlife specialist with the Minnesota DNR (in an email), snapping turtles are often misunderstood because they look “scary” and react in defense when they feel threatened. They are not, according to her, dangerous.
They are calmest in the water and often attempt to look more frightening on land, where they feel more vulnerable. While they will defend themselves out of fear, they will never attack.
“They really just want to avoid being encountered, and will hide and flee if given half a chance,” Hoaglund said.
Holm, the original witness to the big turtle in question, has expressed no fear. In fact, she has said she plans on returning to the resort to find her old friend again.
“I’m going to go back to that spot next year and see if he or she is still around,” she said.