J.J. Watt Cheers on “Hulking” Alligator Snapping Turtle Named After Him
"You got this big guy."
A 131-pound alligator snapping turtle named J.J. Watt received some much-needed words of encouragement from his namesake this week.
The "hulking" male turtle, who was the 99th turtle to be captured, researched, and released by the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), was given the nickname "J.J. Watt" in honor of the former Houston Texans star who wore the number 99 for a decade before moving to the Arizona Cardinals.
The release is part of an ongoing effort with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to restore the threatened species in Houston's bayous and waterways.
On Wednesday, Watt (the human) retweeted a KPRC 2 article on his reptilian counterpart's return to the wild along with a personal message for the turtle.
"You got this big guy," the beloved defensive end wrote. "Hot Turtle Summer on deck."
TSA responded to Watt's tweet with an invitation to meet the now-famous turtle.
"Thank you for sharing, @JJWatt!" the organization wrote, "Let us know when you would like to meet JJ the Alligator Snapper, or another one like him in the Bayou, we will introduce you!"
Now that's a meet-and-greet we'd pay to see!
The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the Western Hemisphere. It can attain a size of nearly 200 pounds and live well over 100 years in age. Until recently, they were thought to no longer occur in Harris County. They are currently considered "imperiled" by the state of Texas and are under consideration for federal Endangered Species Act protections.
"A thriving alligator snapping turtle population in the heart of the nation's 4th largest city is a unique situation that should not be taken for granted," Eric Munscher, director of TSA's North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group, said in a statement. "To reach 100 marked alligator snapping turtles in one ecosystem is a rare feat. It speaks to the dedication of the research group carrying out the work, the integrity of the ecosystem being worked in, and the unique ecological role of this environment to Houston, and Texas."
Best of luck, JJ!