When I first spotted it far off in the park, it appeared as though someone had discarded a crumpled-up burlap bag. Moving closer, here’s what I found:
Based on some Googling, I guessed we had come upon a very old “Common Snapping Turtle.” However, looking at the photos, my son believed it to be a “Gopher Turtle,” although he said it’s unusual for that species to be seen north of Florida.
I sent the pictures to the Turtle Rescue League, a non-profit based in New England. According to Alexia Bell of that organization, it is a “… beautiful and and very old snapping turtle.” Mystery solved.
As far as we are concerned, it was anything but common. Prehistoric seems a more appropriate description and it was huge, about the size of a good-sized wheel cover.
Perhaps deciding we posed no threat, the creature began moving surprisingly fast, from a grassy area to the sand of the adjoining baseball field.
I did my best to keep up but was able to get some close-ups. A few small leaves and sticks had temporarily attached themselves to its face.
It moved at a pretty good clip across the field in an absolute straight line toward the outfield fence and the dense foliage beyond. (Please click on the video below.)
It quickly left the ball diamond’s infield behind. I’m including the shot below to give some perspective as to its size. In a few minutes, it was gone.