Alligator Snapping Turtle Deadly Art


Alligator Snapping Turtle

Steve Backshall challenges a team of artists to create deadly animal art. Jo and Nicola fill the studio with sand to make a sculpture of a snapping turtle.


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Transcript


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I'm Steve Backshall, and this is Deadly Art.

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I'm lucky enough to travel the world,

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tracking deadly animals.

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ROARING

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But in this show, I'm picking 25 of my favourites...

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ROARING

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..and challenging my team of deadly artists

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to recreate a killer moment.

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You'll get to make some art,

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and in the final show, my team and I are going to choose which animals

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will make it into my Deadly Art Gallery.

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This is no ordinary art show, this is Deadly Art!

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On today's Deadly Art...

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I meet a curious creature who's seriously snappy.

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The head snaps out like that.

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My team of deadly artists recreate a killer moment..

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We need to do something really big.

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..and you can make your own Deadly Art at home too.

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Here's today's chosen animal.

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This ruthless reptile lives underwater.

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It's been around for millions of years

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-and with a bite that's

-TURTLEY

-awesome,

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he's a true monster of the deep.

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Any guesses?

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Well, the monster in question is...

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the alligator snapping turtle.

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Yes, I know. It is a bit of a weird name.

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The alligator snapping turtle spends its time

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sat on the bottom of a swamp, looking a bit like a log.

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But the clever thing is,

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he gets his lunch to come to him with a cunning con.

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On the end of its tongue is a lure that looks a bit like a worm

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And makes its prey swim right inside.

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It's going to be a challenge to recreate this monster.

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Time to meet the artists who are waiting for their mission.

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I'm Nicola. I'm an ice sculptress and a power tool queen.

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CHAINSAW REVS

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I'm Jo. I like using gloss paint, human hair -

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all sorts of different materials but most of all, I like making a mess.

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In a moment, you'll join me and the Deadly 60 crew

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in the Deep South of the USA on a hunt for alligator snapping turtles.

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First, let's take a look at the killer shot

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I'd like my artists to recreate.

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-CAMERA WHIRS

-Snap!

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And their art has to include these three essential elements.

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Size. With its spiked shell,

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beak-like jaws and thick-scaled tail,

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this species is often called the dinosaur of the turtle world.

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They can grow up to 113kg.

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That's the weight of three 12-year-olds.

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The shell. Turtles evolved around 200 million years ago.

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Snapping turtles have long ridges along their back,

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very similar to those on an alligator.

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That's part of the reason they got their name,

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along with their amazing snap action.

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Prey is enticed in to their mouth, thinking they're getting a meal.

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What they get is one of the fiercest bites in the world.

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So, Jo and Nicola, get stuck in to your Deadly Art.

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That is the weirdest thing I have seen.

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But that worm is part of the killer moment,

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so we have to get it in.

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OK. Look at his head!

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It's huge! It's almost out of proportion to his body

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It looks prehistoric. It's like a dinosaur.

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We need to do something big.

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His skin is so rough and rugged looking.

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I tell you what's good for that - sand!

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We're going to need a lot of it.

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Jo and Nicola are using their brute strength.

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I think this could get a bit messy.

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Right. We've got masses of sand for our turtle.

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Let's get compacting.

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Boof! Boof!

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Snapping turtles love dark, murky, fresh water.

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So, we're heading to the Black Bayou Wetlands

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in the US southern state of Louisiana.

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To help find one, I've enlisted the help of an expert.

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This is Mitch.

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He's studying the turtles.

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The Black Bayou is pretty vast.

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And the water is, as you can see, pretty murky.

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So our chances of just happening across the animal

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we're looking for, are pretty slender.

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We put out these hoop net traps...

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..and there's fresh fish bait inside.

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I'm really hoping...

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..that we've caught something special.

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We actually have three.

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I don't believe it!

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Look at the size of the head on that one!

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Stick around because I'll get closer

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to these turtles in just a moment.

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But how are Jo and Nicola getting on in the Deadly Art studio?

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Because I want the jaws of the turtle to be wide open

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so we can see the insides of his mouth,

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it needs to be extremely strong so that it can hold its own weight.

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That's why I've got a box, loads of sand, loads of water,

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and I'm going to use machinery to compact this sand down,

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so it becomes really, really strong.

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I'm loving how extreme Deadly Art can be.

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Now Jo's going to show you how to do a portrait

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of the snapping turtle.

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First off, a big square in the middle of my page.

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And an oval coming down here...

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which will be his leg.

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Here we have a rectangle.

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And then a triangle down here and a triangle down here.

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Now we have to join it up.

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So I'm doing quite jaggedy lines...

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..because he's got such gnarly skin.

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Up here, I'm going to do

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these triangular shapes which is just to hint

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at where his ridges on his back will be.

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Those claws look fierce, Jo!

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Now I've got to put in where his mouth's going to be.

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I'm going to have a line going right down the centre

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of that square that I drew.

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And that's going to be the far edge of his mouth.

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The alligator snapping turtle has got lots of ridges around his neck

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which I'm going to draw in.

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OK. I mustn't forget that little wriggly worm inside his mouth.

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I'll pop that in now.

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The more shading you do, the more intricate the drawing will be.

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so, I'm just going to start off around the edges.

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OK, I'm going to go into the mouth now.

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Really build up those layers

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to get that really dark, cavernous jaw.

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Don't forget to leave out the worm.

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So, now I'm going to go back into it, just with a rubber.

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This will really bring it out and highlight certain areas.

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It makes a more 3D drawing and makes it much more realistic.

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Rubbing along those tough ridges.

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My Deadly Doodle alligator snapping turtle.

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Nice portrait, Jo!

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Now, back to our huge sand sculpture.

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There we go.

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Lovely.

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So, we've got one part for the body and one block for the head.

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The sand's compacted, ready for sculpting.

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This is my outline for the profile of the turtle.

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This mark here is going to be where his mouth is.

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As you can see, his jaws are going to be wide open.

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That's why I needed a strong block of sand.

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OK, so I've made two spikes on the turtle shell.

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And the way I've been doing that is by getting this lovely mud...

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..making a pancake, slapping it down hard.

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And then, putting some dry sand over the top.

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Patting it down a bit more.

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And we're just layering it up.

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That's the biggest mud pie I've ever seen!

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I think that's high enough.

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OK, we'll leave Jo making a mess and travel back to Louisiana

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to get close to our three alligator snapping turtles.

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Right.

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Good job, man. Good job. You got him.

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Woo-hoo!

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That is a big turtle.

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Look at the size of that head!

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It's totally out of proportion to the whole of the rest of the body

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and most of that is just pure muscle power driving that jaw.

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It's almost like a great big curved kitchen knife.

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Looking at the shape of the head and the body

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it's very irregular.

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The colour's quite dark and he blends in really, really well

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with all the vegetation at the bottom of the water here.

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And then as soon as a fish gets too close, the head snaps

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out like that.

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The jaws clamp shut incredibly quickly,

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and the fish is history.

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The snapping turtle's head was huge

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and our big sand sculpture looks just as deadly.

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I've got the main body of his head already carved in now.

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And now I'm working on inside his mouth

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and I want this bit to look dramatic

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so I'm going to carve underneath

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so it really looks like it's got that curly, wiggly shape.

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Jo's on to the legs.

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So, I've four mounds of sand

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and I'm packing these down really, really tightly,

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just like with the body.

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And then in with the trowel.

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I never knew sand sculpting could look so detailed and intricate.

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This looks superb!

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Nicola's using her muscles again.

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Sand sculpting may look hard work,

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but if you're at the beach this summer or have a sandpit,

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here's how you can make one too.

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Over to Nicola.

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The compacting process is really important,

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just like with our big turtle.

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We need to apply loads of pressure.

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Just start smacking it down.

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And you can start to see the shape of his shell already.

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Next, we need those all-important ridges.

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And for that I'm going to use some of this sand

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and lots of water to make this really gooey, disgusting mud stuff.

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Then, taking small amounts at a time,

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you can start to pinch on his central ridge.

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Now, he has three ridges on his back.

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One on the top

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and two either side.

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Much better than making sand castles!

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Now, he also has a lip all the way around.

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So, using your hands,

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you can pinch a shape

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around the entire shell.

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Now to add his head.

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Take some spare sand and just dump it in a pile in the top.

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Add some water.

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OK.

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Now, his head has got a little ridge in it

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so I'm just going to create that using my hand.

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Take away the excess sand that we don't need...

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..until you've got your base shape to work with.

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His mouth is just an S-shape.

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So, starting at his beak,

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just cut a nice, smooth S.

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You could use your spade to carve out the detail.

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You can start to see his mouth.

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I'll do the same on the other side.

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Round his head.

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I'm just going to cut here for his eyes.

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Just grab a small ball...

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..and stick it on.

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Now for his feet.

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So, he's going to have one there, one here.

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Give them a sprinkling of water, just to make them easy to use.

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There we go.

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Now to shape them.

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Just mould them in to position.

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So, cutting those leg shapes.

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For his claws, just score in some toes.

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And last, but not least, his tail.

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And there you have it -

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your deadly snapping alligator turtle.

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Looking great, Nicola!

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And our huge sand sculpture's complete too.

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Well, for the sheer scale of it,

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it has prehistoric portions, so I think we've got that one.

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Well, that's the dimensions sorted.

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I love what you did with the shell.

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Those spikes give it that deadly dinosaur feel.

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And what do you reckon to his mouth?

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Can you see why they call it the alligator snapping turtle?

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Oh, yeah. With the fish being lured in by that worm.

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That is the killer moment!

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-Definitely.

-Yeah.

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So, it's time for the big reveal.

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Remember this is the killer moment I challenged my artists to recreate.

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So, let's take a look at our finished art.

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Look at that!

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Amazing! This is truly deadly

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and represents all the qualities I asked Nicola and Jo to include.

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A sand sculpture may not have been an obvious choice,

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but it really works.

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The dimensions of this dinosaur-like turtle

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are magnificent!

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The head and the mouth are really prominent

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and it's easy to get a sense of the primitive nature of this creature

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that's been around for millions of years.

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I love the shell.

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The Deadly team have really captured my killer moment

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even down to its open beak mouth, waiting to snap at any passing fish.

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Art definitely doesn't get any deadlier than this.

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That's a top deadly rating from me

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but will it make it into my Deadly Gallery?

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Maybe. See you next time for more Deadly Art.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

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Inspired by his amazing list of Deadly 60 animals, Steve Backshall challenges a team of artists to create astounding deadly animal art! Jo and Nicola fill the studio with sand to make a massive sculpture of a snapping turtle, and show how to make your own sand sculpture.