Kayakers Come Face to Face With Giant Snapping Turtle: 'So Scared'

A Minnesota woman and her daughter were left shocked during a fishing trip when they encountered a huge snapping turtle that was trying to steal their fish.

Shala Holm shared pictures of the incredible aquatic turtle on Facebook after encountering it during a trip.

Holm told Newsweek: "We were staying at a resort on the Mississippi River—Niemeyer's Rugged River Resort, which we've gone to for the past 10 years as a family."

Snapping turtle on the Mississippi River
Pictures of the giant snapping turtle seen on the Mississippi River by Shala Holm and her daughter. Shala Holm

The family owns a tandem Hobie kayak and frequently takes it out on fishing trips.

"My daughter and I decided to go out fishing for panfish, sunfish, and crappies and it was kind of windy, so we tucked in along the edge of the river," Holm said. "We had caught several fish and we had a fishing basket hanging off the side."

But as they paddled through the water on the river, Holm's daughter suddenly noticed something different.

"My daughter said, 'Mom, mom be quiet, I hear something breathing,'" she said.

As they looked around to see if there was a deer on the shore or another animal nearby, what they saw next was a complete shock. "All of a sudden we saw this nose coming from the shoreline towards our kayak. It got up close to the kayak, dove under and grabbed onto the fishing basket," recalled Holm.

Watching the water, they noticed that a huge common snapping turtle had stumbled on their boat—and tried to take advantage of the pre-caught fish.

A species of large freshwater turtle, the common snapping turtle is found from southeastern Canada to as far as Florida.

Common in the Mississippi River, these animals can grow very large and have been recorded at over two feet when fully grown. Average weights vary from 10 to 35 pounds.

Often seen crossing roads during the spring season, they move slowly between wetlands but are famed for their powerful jaws and highly mobile head and neck.

The average lifespan of a common snapping turtle in the wild is not well known, but one study from a park in Ontario, Canada, suggested a maximum age of over 100 years.

Holm had to battle the creature to keep hold of her catch.

"I lifted the basket out of the water, and he clung onto it," recalled Holm. "I mean, I could hardly lift the basket because he was so big, but I was able to shake him off and I was so scared, my heart was racing. So we just left."

That night back at the resort they told their family all about the chance encounter. Difficult to explain and almost unbelievable, Holm decided she would need some more evidence.

"The next evening, I said to my daughter let's go back out and just see if that turtle doesn't come back," she said.

In the same spot as before, the pair put some fish in the fishing basket, and incredibly, the turtle returned a second time.

"We were so surprised," laughed Holm. "It had come back the second night and done the exact same thing. But I had my wits about me and was able to take the pictures."

Armed with a photo, Holm shared the turtle with the local department of natural resources. "All they could tell from the picture was that it was at least 15 years old, but could be up to 30," Holm said.

"His claws were probably as big as my fist," said Holm. "And then add those talons... He was big and heavy."