Wednesday, September 09, 2015
SOCIALIZED SNAPPING TURTLES
So when we were filming the last episode of Boating Georgian Bay we were out in an anchorage doing a safety segment, which included the use of inflatable life jackets. We were the only boat in the anchorage and we had a persistent visitor. My bikini clad co-host Gail was not anxious to jump in the water to demonstrate the lifejacket with this big turtle lurking about. This turtle had gotten used to other boaters feeding it ... because it was literally begging at the swim platform. I tried pushing it away gently with a boat brush and throwing buckets of water at it but it wouldn’t be discouraged. Now normally there are a few snappers that call every harbour their home, but if they are in the area and you jump in and claim the water they go away. This guy was so used to being fed by people that he couldn’t be discouraged and he was big enough to be an obvious danger to humans because he was not afraid and no doubt he understood that human hands can come with great food. This is as serious problem for someone swimming in the vicinity, because a big turtle like that could bite off a few fingers or part of a foot without any problem. If you have ever had the misfortune of leaving a stringer of fish in the water too long around a snapper you know what I mean. They get bitten clean off just behind the head without any effort at all. I felt sorry for this turtle because it would only be a matter of time before someone would kill it for being so aggressive in the company of humans.
Giving a snapping turtle a free lunch for the purpose of human curiosity is never a good idea (and neither is feeding bears or other wildlife) because ultimately as they get used to humans, it is a death sentence for the normally cautious reptiles. It’s fun to observe them, but best to draw the line and not feed them if you care about them surviving one more season of what is probably a long life already lived with plenty more years to come. We humans take so much from nature, give these beautiful creatures a break and leave them to explore the anchorage and clean up the dead carrion in the water that would otherwise pollute the water. That is their place in nature to be the cleaners of our lakes and waterways.