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Monster in the Pond

 We built several ponds and improved some pre-existing wetlands on our farm with the idea of encouraging different types of wildlife. These are all small ponds but they have been a great success in enhancing the beauty and wildlife of our 107 acres of paradise. One pond lies just in front of our 120 year old farmhouse and I watch it daily for interesting natural events. Sometimes there are migrating birds there, or a mink will be swimming, or frogs will be calling and breeding. Yesterday I looked out and there was a strange object on a rock which turned out to be a large snapping turtle. This antediluvian beast was impressive and could be considered a scary sight considering that our grand-kids swim in the pond. Such predators evoke the desire in many to destroy them, but I delight in seeing this example of a healthy aquatic community. This pond has many fish (perhaps too many), the bass are growing well, and lots of amphibians such as bullfrogs enliven the night time chorus of sounds. I have spent many hours wading and swimming in water filled with snapping turtles and never had a problem with them. 

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The unusual pink color of this snapper makes me think that It was enjoying the warm sun and increased blood flow to its skin caused this strange color. What does this impressive chelonian eat? Anything it can catch I imagine, but snappers are bottom walkers and do not swim well. So they are not mobile enough to catch healthy fish or amphibians but I think they probably cull out any sick prey animals. 

Let's renew our appreciation of the unloved monsters of the deep, which have their natural place in the food chain and in general are quite beneficial. Live and let live. Of course it is virtually impossible to get rid of snapping turtles or coyotes anyway, so we might as well enjoy them! 

Bill Dunson Englewood, FL, and Galax, VA 
wdunson@comcast.net 

http://www.galaxgazette.com/blogs 

http://lemonbayconservancy.org/dunson_archives.htm 

http://lemonbayconservancy.org/wildflower.htm