(PHOTO): River Creature With Enormous Claws Freaks Out Kayakers.

A woman took a spooky photo of a river creature with huge claws while on her yearly family trip. The strange image alarmed kayakers from far and wide as it went viral and shocked viewers who were astounded by what they saw.

(Shala Holm was at Niemeyer’s Rugged River Resort when she captured an image she will never forget. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Shala Holm, of Buffalo, Minnesota, was having her yearly family vacation at Niemeyer’s Rugged River Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota, when she took a picture she and many others will never forget. Just before something crawled at the side of their tandem kayak on the Mississippi River, Shala’s daughter Avery said a horrifying sentence while fishing for crappies.

“My daughter abruptly said, ‘Mom, be quiet. Shala said, “I can hear something breathing.” Looking toward the shore, Shala expected to see a dear or beaver. Rather than spotting what she expected, Shala saw a nose in the water as some sort of clawed river creature swam up to the fishing basket hung off the kayak and started to scratch at it.

(Shala Holm was in a tandem kayak with her daughter Avery when the girl alerted her mom. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

“He sort of crawled onto it,” Shala Holm said. She said, “He was so big, and we were so startled,” then lifted the basket, shook it, and the creature swam away. That would not, however, be the last Shala and Avery would see. Actually, the mother and daughter made the decision to go back to the same location the next evening in search of the creature once more—this time with an eye toward photography.

Fortunately, the river creature returned after the couple had caught a few fish and this time Shala was ready. She took some pictures, never expecting the pictures would get so much attention when she uploaded them online. But when Niemeyer’s Rugged River Resort also shared one of Shala’s pictures on their Facebook page, it went viral right away and clearly freaked out kayakers both close by and far.

(Shala Holm captured a startling photo of a clawed river creature. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Shala and Avery were right next to what looked to be a terrifying creature with a dinosaur-like head. The creepy picture showed outstretched front legs with huge claws extended toward a basket of fish. “The beauty of a kayak is that you’re quite close to the water,” Shala said. “So we were really quite close,” she continued, adding that she estimates the reptile’s front legs were the same size as her wrists.

Of course, viewers eventually realize that they are looking at a huge turtle, but that brings little comfort. In fact, many commenters on Niemeyer’s Rugged River Resort Facebook post said they’d never enter waters where such large creatures might be lurking. “Remind me to never swim in the river,” one such social media user wrote, while another added, “Capital F.that. Good God.”

(Shala Holm captured a second picture in which the turtle’s head is out of the water. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Shala Holm sent her picture to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where MPR News reports staff members estimated the turtle was at least 15 years old but perhaps even as old as 30. Based on DNR, Shala thinks it was a snapping turtle— Minnesota’s biggest turtle species with adults averaging 8 to 14 inches long and weighing from 10 to 35 pounds. They can, nevertheless, be even more than that. MPR notes that the biggest known snapping turtle in Minnesota weighed “whopping 65 pounds.”

Erica Hoaglund, regional nongame wildlife specialist with the Minnesota DNR, says although snapping turtles can have a negative reputation, they are typically docile in the water and only exhibit defensive posture on land, where they are more vulnerable and easily frightened. She said, although they do not attack, most wild animals would try to defend themselves should they be threatened or very afraid. Hoag Lund said, “they truly just want to avoid being encountered and will hide and flee if given half a chance.”

(Stock image for visual representation only photo Credit: Pixabay)

As for those now fearful of the water, Sheila Niemeyer, who owns the resort where the image was captured, also had some wisdom to share. “I think if you were to really look at any lake or river, you’re going to find all kinds of things you never thought of,” she said. However, Niemeyer doesn’t think swimmers really have anything to fear. “They leave you alone. They don’t want to be by you,” she added.

“They believe, “Oh my gosh, I’ll never go there,” so hopefully it won’t be something negative. I would prefer not to swim with that. I don’t want to swim with that,’” Niemeyer continued. “For the most part, I don’t think you need to worry about that. But, seeing the wildlife is just amazing,” she added. And, it seems Shala Holm and her family would agree. In fact, Shala said she’ll be going back to the resort and that very spot again. She intends to see if her clawed river creature is still around in years to come rather than letting the turtle’s presence deter her.

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