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FAQ
Target Species: Alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys temmincki
Location: Manchac Wildlife Management Area, s.Louisiana & Black Bayou, n.Louisiana, USA
Director: Hugo Smith


Location: The Alligator snapping turtle is not protected in the State of Louisiana.

Mission Statement:

Louisiana is the only state within the range of the huge freshwater Alligator snapping turtle that does not afford it some legal protection. In southern Louisiana meat from the long-lived turtle is an important ingredient in Cajun cooking and the turtle is nearing extinction in the wild where it is being poached. Mark joins turtle hunter turned game-keeper Hayden Reno to search for snapping turtles in the Manchac Wildlife Management Area. Mark then travels to Black Bayou in northern Lousiana, where the Cayun tradition is less apparent, and works with alligator snapping turtle expert Brent Harrel. Brent sets nets to capture turtles alive so he can collect data on their life-history before releasing them again, but turtles are not the only creatures that enter the hoop nets !!
The Black Bayou site is a National Wildlife Refuge, owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. As such it is a protected area and commercial trapping of turtles is illegal.


A close view of the huge but endangered Alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temminckii), note the pink lure on its tongue.

Species recorded during 'Swamp Dinosaur'

Species Common Name
HYLIDAE TREEFROGS
Acris crepitans crepitans Eastern cricket frog
RANIDAE TRUE FROGS
Rana catesbeiana American bullfrog
Rana sphenocephala Southern leopard frog
CHELYDRIDAE SNAPPING TURTLES
Chelydra serpentina serpentina Common snapping turtle
Macroclemys temminckii Alligator snapping turtle
EMYDIDAE POND TERRAPINS & BOX TURTLES
Graptemys barbouri Barbour's map turtle
Graptemys kohnii Mississippi map turtle
Pseudemys concinna floridana Coastal plains cooter
Trachemys scripta scripta Yellow-bellied slider
Trachemys scripta elegans Red-eared slider
KINOSTERNIDAE MUD & MUSK TURTLES
Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum Eastern mud turtle
TRIONYCHIDAE SOFTSHELL TURTLES
Apalone spinifera pallida Pallid softshell turtle
ALLIGATORIDAE ALLIGATORS & CAIMAN
Alligator mississippiensis American alligator
POLYCHROTIDAE ANOLES
Anolis carolinensis American green anole
Anolis sagrei sagrei Cuban brown anole
TEIIDAE MACROTEIIDS
Cnemidophorus sexlineatus sexlineatus Six-lined racerunner
COLUBRIDAE TYPICAL SNAKES
Nerodia rhombifera rhombifera Diamondback watersnake
VIPERIDAE VIPERS & PITVIPERS
Crotalus adamanteus Eastern diamondback rattlesnake

 


Location: Alligator snappers are rare in southern Louisiana but they are still fairly common in the north of the state. We visited Manchac and Black Bayou.

 


Mark O'Shea and Hayden Reno examine alligator snappers from Manchac Reserve in southern Louisiana.

 


O'Shea and proud Louisianan snapping turtle expert Brent Harrel collect data from a Black Bayou snapper, northern Louisiana.

 


Black Bayou is home to a large protected population of alligator snapping turtles as well as many other turtle species.

 

 

 


Black Bayou is also home to American alligators, (Alligator mississippiensis). This one was in the net with two large snappers !

 


These turtles are heavy, this old male weighs almost as much as O'Shea.

 


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