The photo captures the desperate struggle between a hungry crocodile and a lucky turtle in South Carolina.

As the South Carolina photo shows, the middle of the food chain is not the place for non-smokers.

Jeff Becton recently captured a life-and-death struggle between a hungry crocodile and a desperate turtle trapped in a toothed jaw, pulling, twisting, and tensely fleeing.

“It was definitely a fight,” Becton told McClutch News. “I’m probably doing the same thing.”

Becton took pictures of wildlife in the early days of the pandemic, and since then his hobby has evolved into a full-fledged passion.

He wanted to go to the Caw Caw Interpretive Center Park near Charleston early in the morning in late June to find a snake to take a picture of. Instead, he came across his mother’s crocodile, and her newly hatched turtles gathered just a few feet away from the trail.

As he looked, Becton noticed something else moving in the green mud-turtle. I wasn’t particularly impressed because the crocodile was hidden too much or the turtles were getting closer and closer.

“It was walking right in front of the crocodile, and she just jumped over it,” Becton said.

Gator tightened his prey, but instead of a clicking sound, there was silence.

“I don’t think the turtle was so big that it couldn’t be pushed down hard enough to actually damage the turtle,” Becton said.

The crocodile chewed the turtle from different angles.

The crocodile chewed the turtle from different angles.

Determined to plunge into the soft, chewy center, the crocodile maintained enormous pressure and treated the turtle like a swamp jawbreaker.

“It was very strange because the crocodile didn’t make a noise and the turtle didn’t make a noise,” Becton said. “It was like a quiet battle.”

This lasted about five minutes, Becton said. And there was an opening.

“Finally it ran away. It spewed out a bit and became muddy,” he said. The turtle disappeared, and Becton found the top of his head above the surface a few minutes later.

According to Becton, it lived to be eaten another day. He admits that he was rooting for a lucky creature.

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