‘JJ Watt the turtle’ released into the wild in epic effort to save species in Houston area

J.J. Watt the 99th alligator-snapping turtle. (Turtle Survival Alliance)

HOUSTON – An alligator-snapping turtle who was nicknamed after a former Houston Texan was released in the wild last Thursday.

The Turtle Survival Alliance that has been researching the species since 2016 and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are behind the effort to capture, tag and release two alligator-snapping turtles, one male and one female, according to a news release.

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The male snapping turtle, who was the 99th turtle to be captured eleased was given the nickname “J.J. Watt” in honor of the former Houston Texans defensive end who donned the No. 99 before he moved to Arizona earlier in the year.

Experts stated populations of the Western Alligator Snapping Turtle, until recently, were thought to no longer occur in Harris County. However, reports of sightings of this species from Buffalo Bayou over the years suggested a few animals did exist there. Its population in the bayou was not formally documented until TSA confirmed it in 2016. The turtles face extinction due to human activities such as pollution, erosion and poor water conditions.

The Turtle Survival Alliance continues to research and tag all alligator-snapping turtles for research and conservation purposes in bayous around the Houston-area, including Buffalo Bayou.

About the Author

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 3, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.

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