The Unbelievable True Story of New York’s Real ‘Mutant’ Sewer Turtles
Teenage? Maybe. Ninjas? Unlikely.
But in 1988, three ENORMOUS snapping turtles were found inside a New York City sewage treatment plant. Just how big were they? OVER 50 POUNDS EACH! That's 150 pounds of Turtle Power!
Workers in the Bronx made the shocking discovery after they heard sounds coming from a machine that separates trash from sewage before it's treated. That's when the huge reptiles were discovered. They were then pulled from the plant and turned over to a wildlife conservation group, who released them Upstate (!!!).
Who knows... they might still be out there! Snapping turtles can live up to 40 years or more.
Snappers can certainly grow to large sizes, but 50 pounds is pretty rare. At that size, one can imagine this 1988 encounter must've been pretty hair-raising.
(Always exercise caution around snapping turtles. If spotted on the road, they can generally be pulled to safety by their tail or via the back of their shell, as their necks cannot turn directly behind them.)
THE TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION
It would be reasonable to conclude that this story helped spawn the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the Ninja Turtles are actually a bit older than that. Comic book artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird published the first Ninja Turtles comic in 1984. Eastman & Laird licensed their creations to Playmate Toys in 1987, and in 1988 the first action figures came out. The animated cartoon also started airing in late 1988.
So while this story didn't actually have anything to do with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it did occur right at the start of Ninja Turtle mania. COWABUNGA!