An Oklahoma man was looking for catfish, but instead he ended up catching a gigantic, prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtle.
According to the Daily Mail, angler Dave Harrell of Edmond, Okla., posed with the 100-pound creature before releasing it back into Lake Eufaula's Mill Creek unharmed.
Harrell posted the photo to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Facebook page, where it has been liked by more than 1,400 people as of this writing.
“While catfishing we caught and released this yesterday in Mill Creek at Eufala lake, Dave Harrell of Edmond caught it on a rod and reel and Audey Clark of Norman secured it and hauled it into the boat for pictures. It is the biggest one we had ever seen,” the post reads.
Oklahoma wildlife experts say that alligator snapping turtles, which are also known as “loggerheads” due to their enormous heads, are more rare than their smaller relatives, the common snapping turtles.
According to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park fact sheet, the turtles have three ridges, or keels, on their shells. The loggerhead also are described as having a shorter neck and eyes on the side of its large head.
Barry Downer, herptology and aquatics curator for the Tulsa Zoo, told Tulsa World that alligator snapping turtles have recently been the subject of reintroduction efforts in northeast Oklahoma, with nearly 300 reared and released so far.
Downer says the largest alligator snapping turtle on record weighed about 205 pounds. Judging from the photo, he approximated that the turtle caught by Harrell and his friend Clark at Eufaula Lake likely weighs between 100-110 pounds.
They live to be 60 to 80 years old in captivity, and can be dangerous, according to Michael Bergin of the ODWC information and education division.
“If you do go to messing with one or if maybe you get too close to one and you don’t see it and it does decide to bite you, it can be very dangerous,” Bergin told GrindTV Outdoor in a phone interview.
“They have some real powerful jaws that can really injure a person,” he adds. “Because of the strength in their jaws, they can easily damage the skin and sometimes worse. You hear stories of people getting their finger nearly bit off by a turtle and that’s not an exaggeration.
“For the most part, they’re going to avoid people. I would certainly never advise anyone to handle the turtle as that guy did. He had it in a way it wasn’t going to get him, but most people aren’t going to be able to [handle] a turtle like that.
“You can’t tell, but the neck on that turtle can come out a lot further than that and they can definitely injure a person.”