Thunder Bay·Video

Pelican vs turtle fight captured on Ontario lake

It would seem to be the most unlikely of animal battles. But last week, CBC Thunder Bay reporter and outdoor columnist Gord Ellis was in Sioux Narrows on a short vacation, and video taped a snapping turtle attacking a pelican.

The pelican shook off the turtle after a wild, 2 minute struggle

A common snapping turtle tried to take down a pelican on Lake of the Woods, July 22, 2016. Thunder Bay CBC reporter Gord Ellis got the incident on video. After a wild struggle the bird escaped . (photo:

It would seem to be the most unlikely of animal battles.

But last week, CBC Thunder Bay reporter and outdoor columnist Gord Ellis video taped a snapping turtle attacking a white pelican.

The incident took place near Sioux Narrows, Ontario, on Lake of the Woods.

Ellis was getting ready to enjoy a shore lunch with his wife Cheryl, friend Jeff Port and fishing guide Matt Rydberg. 

As Rydberg was cleaning some walleye, he threw the carcasses to some white pelicans that were hanging around near the shore lunch spot. 

As the birds were gulping down the fish carcasses on the water, Cheryl Ellis noticed something strange.

One of the pelicans began flapping wildly and pecking at something under the water.   

It soon became clear a medium sized snapping turtle had clamped down on the pelican's leg.   

Ellis grabbed his IPhone and caught a bit of the struggle on video.

After a couple of minutes of wild flapping, the turtle let go of the pelican and they both swam off in opposite directions.

Fishing guide Rydberg, who has been on Lake of the Woods for 28 years, said he had never seen a snapping turtle try to grab a pelican in all that time. 

Snapping turtles are native to the northwest of Ontario, and can live to be 100 years old.   

Large adult snapping turtles can weigh 30 kg. and better.

The average white pelican weighs between 5 and 10 kg.