Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Turtle Tales Continued

In my last post I told you about seeing 3 turtles on this Saturday morning dive already, and getting some great pictures of a yellow Leaf Scorpionfish, but I told you the best turtle encounter was yet to come. Fortunately I still had about 1300 pounds of air in my tank, so I was leisurely just skimming over the coral looking for nudibranchs when I came across this little Hawksbill turtle with his tail end sticking up. He was too busy eating to be bothered with anyting else. He was right on the edge of the coral on one of the sand fingers so I just floated there watching him and taking pictures. I was a couple feet away from him at first and he just didn't seem to care at all, so I edged in closer taking pictures. He would look over at me occasionally and just keep on chewing, I don't know whether he is so used to seeing me down there that he figures I belong there or what, but he certainly wasn't the least bit upset by my presence. It's very cool being that close to a turtle so that you can watch his every move, you can actually hear the crunching sound as he bites and breaks pieces of rubble and coral. You can watch his graceful flippers being used to maneuver him into position. And you can get some really good close up shots with the camera. This went over for well over a half hour, the two of us just hanging out in that one spot together. Then he needed a breath of air so he surfaced and I thought that would be the end of it. I had totally enjoyed my time with this turtle and was just watching in awe as he effortlessly glided through the water. He stayed on the surface for a few minutes while I sat there below just watching him. Then he looked back at me almost to see if I was still there and then he came straight back down to me and got right back in his same spot. I don't know if he thought I was some distant relative, maybe a bald headed tank turtle or something. So I just stayed there with him, snapping picture after picture. As cool as this experience was, it's the kind of thing you really want to share with somebody else, to let them experience the magical feeling as well. I noticed a group of Japanese divers about 50' away head down the rope so I decided to go over and wave them over to see this cute little Hawksbill turtle too. As soon as I started to swim away, the strangest thing happened. This crazy turtle was acting like my dog and following me. He was right on my heels and was following to see why I was leaving. He came right over to the Japanese dive group with me and was the perfect photo object. He posed and let them all take all the pictures they wanted. When they were done, he kind of looked at me as if to say, "what next?" I went back over to the spot he was eating and he came back over with me. I stayed with him for another 10 minutes or so, and then quietly slipped away while his head was buried in the hole and he was happily munching away.

Yes, that was finally the end of this amazing day of diving, but I went back to Lau Lau on Sunday to see if I could find any of the turtles again. If you want to find out what happened on Sunday and see some of the video of it, you're going to have to come back again tomorrow.


KelliOnSaipan said...

Such a cute little guy! What awesome photos. Thanks for sharing your turtle dive tales. I like hearing them when you get back from your dive, and I like reading them again.

Bev said...

beautiful pics Harry. Hope we see some this weekend!

Tamara said...