On Thursday, May 26, kayaker and nature enthusiast Matthew Sutton took to the water at East Creek Pond in New Jersey’s Cape May. His goal for the day was simple: “to immerse myself in nature,” he told Premier Angler.
Sutton’s excursions on East Creek have allowed him to observe osprey, bald eagles, and “tons of bass in the shallows.” For most, southern New Jersey’s modest, late-May weather and the opportunity to be surrounded by some of land and air’s finest creatures would make for a fine day.
With all due respect to the birds and the bass, however, one amazing reptile will always stand out as Sutton’s most memorable observation on that day – and perhaps ever.
“Dinosaurs Do Exist!”
While kayaking, Sutton notes that he “happened upon one of the largest snapping turtles” he had ever seen.
Excited by the mammoth turtle hugging a log protruding from the pond, Sutton grabbed his cell phone, opened the camera, and was able to paddle within five feet of the massive snapper to capture a few photos.
“He was huge,” recalls Sutton, who shared the photo on social media with the caption “dinosaurs do exist!”
“Estimated Between 80-100 Years Old”
Sutton shared the photo with a trapper who estimated that the turtle likely weighs somewhere in the vicinity of 45-50 pounds!
For comparison, The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at the University of George estimates that the average snapping turtle weighs somewhere between 10 and 35 pounds. While Sutton’s algae-covered beauty is still considerably shy of the largest recorded snapping turtle (which weighed 75 pounds), it is still quite the sight to behold.
Sutton’s research on snapping turtles at this weight also suggests that the creature’s age is estimated to be between 80 and 100 years old! He also believes that ensuring the safety of such creatures – and the humans who may encounter them in the wild – is especially important.
“Always treat wildlife with respect and a wide berth,” Sutton notes. “Through conservation, snappers like this will continue to thrive.”