CRUNCH TIME from Blackwater Turtle Refuge


Conservation Using Educational Commercialization. Leave your mark, not your footprint.


Biography of the Blackwater Turtle Refuge

Blackwater Turtle Refuge began in 1987 by curator Rusty Reed. What began as a hobby quickly turned into a personal obsession to do something for a species of turtle that had been slaughtered to near depletion by man.

The Alligator Snapping Turtle is the world’s largest freshwater turtle species living in a small portion of the southern United States. Commercial trapping in the 60’s and 70’s had depleted the population of giants in about a five year span. They are now protected in all states of their natural range.

In 1989, we at Blackwater Turtle Refuge purchased one of the last of the worlds' giants and have been his primary caretakers ever since. Eventually he would be known as CRUNCH. He became the most famous Alligator Snapper in history. He has been published worldwide several times through the Associated Press and on CNN as one of the largest left alive in the world. As the owner and curator of the Blackwater Turtle Refuge, I consider myself his caretaker rather than his owner. He should outlive me by over 100 years. We display CRUNCH in an entertaining, educational exhibit. It is our goal to use educational commercialization to instill knowledge. By instilling knowledge, we hope to promote conservation by changing the hearts of man, their only natural enemy.

Rusty Reed


Blackwater Turtle Refuge is located in the outskirts of Churubusco, Indiana, known as TURTLE TOWN USA SINCE 1949.