When the project first started in June, we took on the task of making two turtle traps with PVC pipes and metal wire-netting. To keep it simple, that has been the easy part. Both of our traps were failures as they sunk to the bottom of the river and we are currently fixing them and making them completely air tight in hopes of finally catching a Spiny Softshell Turtle. In the mean time, we have also been using hoop traps that have caught every turtle besides the ones that we actually want. One thing that we have all learned is how evasive the Spiny Softshell Turtles are. We have tried nearly everything, from trotting through the entire Riverwalk to throwing nets on them, and have had no luck.
The turtles will swiftly slide into the water as soon as they notices you, and it seems as if their senses are extremely keen. They have proven themselves very elusive and the sought after turtle have slowly begun frustrating the crew. We have narrowed down the popular basking locations that we have encountered on the Chadakoin River to a handful of specific points along the river. We have chosen these points to set up several ring traps that are partially submerged under water to hopefully snag us some turtles. We have had no luck catching the Spiny Softshell Turtles with these traps, as they have also proven to be very smart and don’t fall for the simple trap. We have even spotted a small male Spiny Softshell Turtle swimming around a ring trap multiple times as it observes it, but doesn’t actually go in it, demonstrating some form of caution when approaching alien objects in the water.
Even though we haven’t caught one of the turtles yet, we are still very optimistic. One reason for our high hopes is that we just received a 35×4 foot net that we are going to use to block off a part of the Chadakoin, forcing the turtles into either our traps or our nets if all goes as planned. We are excited to go out tomorrow and use our net to hopefully catch our first Spiny Softshell Turtles and we will definitely keep the blog updated on this topic!