Yesterday's nature excursion with the young scholars of Griffin Academy was blessed by brilliant sunshine, not too brisk temperatures and tremendously enthusiastic adventurers. Armed with nets and plastic containers, our intrepid nature explorers captured an impressive array of dragonfly nymphs, tadpoles, minnows and snails, along with gobs of slimy green hair-like pond scum or filamentous algae, most likely colonies of spirogyra.
Our bold young Griffins also showed off their photography skills when confronted with a rather large and apparently rather dead common snapping turtle.
Chelydra serpentina is North Carolina's largest native turtle, and this fifteen-pounder had apparently succumbed to the cold of winter or perhaps old age.
Inappropriate attire notwithstanding, Mr. Jimmy gingerly retrieved the carcass from the water's edge so that the students could have a closer look, as they documented the procedure with a handy-dandy iPhone camera.
Imagine their suprise when the decidedly not-dead reptile suffiently shook off its late-winter torpor to demonstrate for everyone the origins of its common name by attempting to carve up the toe of Mr. Jimmy's entirely inappropriate footwear!
With the "snapper" re-oriented away from all the nearby toes and ankles, everyone took a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of this fully alive and operational predator from the depths.
A truly awesome creature, extremely well-adapted to its aquatic environment. Its impressive tail was nearly as long as its carapace, and more than one child compared it to a dinosaur's. The head was massive, with really cool-looking eyes, and mouth exceedingly well-equipped for grabbing and holding slippery prey. The shell sported a healthy growth of algae, which would obviously serve its host well in the business of camouflage on the bottom of the pond.
Our budding young scientists thoroughly exhausted Mr. Jimmy's knowledge of these extraordinary creatures, and left him with plenty of questions to be researched later.
Presumably much relieved to be finished with its fifteen minutes of fame, the subject of our brief but enthusiastic examination hunkered back down into the mucky bottom from whence it was so unceremoniously extracted, most likely resuming the not quite finished business of its long winter's nap.
Farewell, old turtle!