River Creature With Enormous Claws Freaks Out Kayakers

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While enjoying her annual family vacation, a woman captured an eerie picture of a river creature with enormous claws. The unusual image freaked out kayakers from near and far when it went viral as it was spread around the web by shocked viewers who were stunned 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 enjoying her annual family vacation at Niemeyer’s Rugged River Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota when she captured an image she and many others will never forget. While fishing for crappies with her daughter Avery in a tandem kayak on the Mississippi River, Shala’s daughter uttered a terrifying sentence just before something clawed at the side of their kayak.

“My daughter all of a sudden said, ‘Mom, be quiet. I can hear something breathing,'” Shala recalled. Expecting to see a dear or beaver, Shala looked toward the shore. Instead of spotting what she expected, however, Shala saw a nose in the water as some type of clawed river creature swam up to the fishing basket hanging off the side of the kayak and began 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 kind of clawed onto it,” Shala Holm said. “He was so big, and we were so startled,” she continued, adding that she lifted the basket, shook it, and the creature swam away. However, that wouldn’t be the last Shala and Avery would see of it. In fact, the mother and daughter decided to return to the same spot the following evening to see if they could spot the creature again — and this time, they hoped to capture a picture of it.

Thankfully, after the pair had caught a few fish, the river creature returned, and this time, Shala was ready. She snapped a couple of photos, never expecting the images would get so much attention when she posted them online. However, when Niemeyer’s Rugged River Resort also posted one of Shala’s photos to their Facebook page, it quickly went viral, having freaked out kayakers from near and far — and it’s easy to see why.

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

The eerie photo showed outstretched front legs with large claws extended toward a basket of fish, and Shala and Avery were right next to what appeared to be a frightening creature with a dinosaur-like head. “When you’re in a kayak, the beauty of it is you’re really 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 brought little comfort. In fact, many commenters on the 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
Shala Holm captured a second picture in which the turtle’s head is out of the water. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Shala Holm sent her photo to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where staff estimated that the turtle was at least 15 years old but possibly even as old as 30, according to MPR News. Shala believes it was a snapping turtle, which is Minnesota’s largest turtle species with adults averaging 8 to 14 inches long and weighing from 10 to 35 pounds, according to DNR. However, they can be even bigger than that. According to MPR, the largest known snapping turtle in Minnesota weighed a “whopping 65 pounds.”

Although snapping turtles can have a bad reputation, they are usually docile in the water, only displaying defensive posture on land, where they are more vulnerable and easily frightened, according to Erica Hoaglund, regional nongame wildlife specialist with the Minnesota DNR. Like most wild animals, they will try to defend themselves if they are threatened or very frightened, but they do not attack, she said. “They really just want to avoid being encountered and will hide and flee if given half a chance,” Hoaglund added.

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.

“I’m hoping it won’t be something negative because they think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ll never go there. 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. Rather than being deterred by the turtle’s presence, she hopes to see if her clawed river creature is still around in years to come.