Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Aligators, caimen, crocodiles, terrapins, tortoises and turtles exotic to South Africa.

Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby Warren Klein » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:12 pm

While meeting with the Marine Turtle Patrol Team for routine data collection, they informed us that they had found two dead turtles on the beach. We would normally go to investigate and try to determine the cause of death which is commonly from poaching or being caught in fishing nets! On arrival at the location of the first dead turtle, we discovered it to be an Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) which likely died from being caught in a fishing net as the body was intact with no obvious injuries. While walking down the beach to location of the second dead turtle, the patrollers started telling me that the carapace of this one was different to what they have seen before. I thought it may be from a juvenile Leather back (Dermochelys coriacea) as we normally work with Olive ridleys. Once we arrived at the second carcass, I saw two sets of claws sticking up and immediately knew this was not a sea turtle! But what was it and how did it get here? On closer examination of the shell and skull, it was clear it was a Soft shell terrapin which I had never found in Angola before and much bigger than any Soft shell I had ever seen before!

Picture shows Olive ridley nesting beach and the location of where the terrapin was found
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The location where this fresh water terrapin washed up was on the Atlantic side of a peninsula in the mouth of the Congo River. We believe this terrapin died somewhere up river and was washed down the Congo and into the ocean were it eventually washed up on the Atlantic shore of the peninsula.


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That's one heavy creature! I would guess at +- 60kg
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The boney part of the the carapace measured a CCL of 55cm and CCW of 54cm. The total length of the soft shell was CCL: 106cm
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Turtle Patrol recording specimen data
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I could'nt resist taking the skull, what a stench!
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The cleaned up skull. There were huge jaw muscles conected to the jaw and skull!
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What a shame one can only guess how old this creature would have been
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For those of you who are still wondering what species, I believe this to be an African Soft Shell Terrapin (Trionyx triunguis) but I'm still waiting for confirmation on that so if anyone knows better please speak up.
An inaccurate naturalist is a pest and a danger, forever perpetuating illogical deductions and landing later naturalists in trouble. Damm and blast them all to hell in the most painful way. C.J.P. Ionides
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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby Mongoose » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:27 pm

That is pretty impressive - some good stuff!

I agree with Nile Soft Shell terrapin due to its large size - but personally don't know much about them..
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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby Sico » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:37 pm

that is pretty amazing! what a find and thanks for sharing. It would be interesting to know how big they actually get and other natural history.
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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby Buck Rogers » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:45 pm

Wow I never knew they actually got that big. At first glance I would think that to be a marine turtle - really impressive, thanks for sharing.
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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby phish » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:52 pm

Thats an mpressive turtle, great post. How did you remove all the flesh from the skull btw ... beetles?
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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby mygalomorph » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:52 pm

Wow, that is a big one!
At least you got a nice souvenir...but damn,that must of smelt bad!!

Nice one Herphabitat!
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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby Warren Klein » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:03 pm

Thanks all. I was really excited with this find, only wish she was still alive.

The flesh was really nice and warm and putrid so I just cut it off with hissing roaches Leatherman which she strangely doesn’t want anymore. I only had some plastic packets to cover my hands and they still smell like sh!t. It's like I have been eating French cheese all day with my bare hands! lol
An inaccurate naturalist is a pest and a danger, forever perpetuating illogical deductions and landing later naturalists in trouble. Damm and blast them all to hell in the most painful way. C.J.P. Ionides
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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby Rishaad » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:15 pm

Nice find. Obviously would have been nice if it were alive. That smell must have been really really bad.
And God has Created every animal from water, of them are some creeping on their bellies, some walk on two legs, and some on four. God Creates what He wills, for sure God has Power over all things. (Noble Quran 24:45)

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Re: Monster Soft Shell from the Congo River

Postby Archie Bottoms » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:46 am

Could of just died of old age that is a monster
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