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 6.5 x 7.5

The title of this piece refers to the Ojibwa Indian word for snapping turtle. Many native cultures have legends about turtles in either creation stories or events involving the turtle as the foundation of the earth, or carrying the earth on its back in some way.
It is not surprising that a turtle would be viewed as solid and stalwartly enough to support terra firma. Its dense external carapace, or shell, which is fused to the internal skeleton offers strong protection against predators. How is it then that the snapping turtle has been so persecuted by man over the years?

 These animals are, in my opinion, one of the most bullied animals on the planet. They are shot at, intentionally run over, trapped and killed or beaten to death with clubs. These shy, unassuming, prehistoric creatures are so at home in the water they make every attempt to avoid contact with humans. On land, exposed and vulnerable, they defend themselves as any animal would.

The snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) exists in almost any body of water, including roadside ditches. These animals maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems in a variety of ways. Surprising to most people is the fact that they are omnivorous, a large percentage of their diet consisting of aquatic vegetation. Pruning aquatic plants, aerating substrates through digging and foraging and aiding in the spread of nutrients are all important roles these turtles play. Keeping plants healthy keeps the water well oxygenated. As well as gardening, snapping turtles offer custodial services. Feeding on carrion, unhealthy fish or weak, dying mammals prevents the spread of disease and fouling of the water.

The high level of persecution towards these animals, combined with other threats such as habitat loss and road mortality, puts the snapping turtle at an extremely high risk for extinction. Slow reproductive rates and low survival rates of hatchlings only adds to this risk. 
We should not only appreciate the scientific value these turtles have in our watershed systems, but also reflect upon our native cultures belief that these quiet wetland warriors have a solid connection to the earth, our people and our heritage