Photographer Nop Paothong was driving around Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge when he spotted a huge snapping turtle lumbering across the road. Always on the prowl for good pictures, Nop hopped from his truck, camera in hand. He crept close to the turtle and planted his tripod. But when Nop snapped a photo, the turtle snapped back! It lunged at Nop, knocking him over.
“I had no idea turtles could jump like that,” Nop says.
It wasn’t Nop’s first bad experience with a snapping turtle. Nop is originally from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia. When he moved to the United States, he was unfamiliar with snapping turtles—and how cranky they can be. Once, Nop tried to coax a snapping turtle off a busy street. When he gently prodded the turtle with his foot, the turtle whipped around and bit his boot. Nop didn’t have much luck with the Squaw Creek turtle, either.
“After the first few shots, you just see blurry photos of the turtle trying to bite me,” Nop says. “I guess that’s where the name ‘snapping turtle’ comes from.”
Nichole LeClair Terrill