131-Pound Snapping Turtle Named JJ Watt Tagged and Released in Houston Area

by Jon D. B.
(Photo by Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“Hot Turtle Summer on deck!” Cardinals’ star JJ Watt is wishing his fellow massive JJ Watt all the best Wednesday as the snapping turtle returns to the wilds outside Houston.

Can a wild JJ Watt survive in Texas? It can if it’s a 131-pound beast of a snapping turtle! The absolutely massive specimen was given his name in honor of Watt’s famously enormous (6’5, 288 lbs) frame. Watt, of course, rose to prominence as a Houston Texan defensive end, too, so the name really works.

Now, JJ Watt the alligator snapping turtle will return to the great outdoors as a part of The Turtle Survival Alliance’s current research project. The snapper, who was the 99th of his species to be tagged by the project, will be monitored in Buffalo Bayou, a wetland in the Houston metropolitan area.

Catching wind of this Wednesday, the OG JJ Watt is sending all his best back home to his reptilian counterpart.

“You got this big guy,” Watt posts to his 5.6 million Twitter followers. “Hot Turtle Summer on deck.”

“You’ve made it when you have a turtle named after you!” lauds follower Sarah. All too true.

Despite being a brilliantly meta tweet, Watt’s shoutout could help bring swaths of attention to the conservation projects happening in Houston. With this sort of spotlight comes public scrutiny, as well. As such, JJ Watt’s fellow JJ Watt’s chances of survival may have just increased tenfold.

JJ Watt to Play ‘Major Role’ in Houston Wildlife Diversity

All in all, JJ Watt will play a “major role” in Houston’s wildlife conservation efforts. And we’re talking about the turtle again.

“Bayous and creeks play a major role in the incredible diversity of wildlife we have here in the Bayou City,” says Texas Parks and Wildlife Department urban biologist Kelly Norrid via The Turtle Survival Alliance press release.

“The discovery of this robust population of alligator snapping turtles will go a long way with helping us bring awareness to the public on just how special the bayous are and how much they need to be protected,” Norrid continues, noting the importance of JJ Watt (the snapper) and his species.

As for The Turtle Survival Alliance, the organization has been researching alligator snapping turtles in the region since 2016. Additionally, they’ve gained support from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in this latest effort to tag & release alligator snappers.

The male representative of his species, JJ Watt saw release this past Thursday into the wilds with a female counterpart. In the end, conservationists hope the pair will help revive the presence of the Western alligator snapping turtle. The species was thought to be long absent from Harris Co., and faces extinction due to pollution and habitat destruction by us humans.

Go, go, go, JJ Watt! You’re the turtle hero we need.