I have noticed a couple different Hawksbill turtles out off Airport Beach but always at different times and different days. Today (10-1-07) I was out and found the gal above, who I have seen numerous days in the last week, breaking off old coral in search of food. I followed her a bit and at one point I saw her look up from the coral but not at me. I looked over in the direction of her interest and saw a larger Hawksbill headed her way. The larger turtle circled in and they circled each other and had a couple bumping encounters. I didn't see any open mouths or biting but with the wind and current I may have missed such. The larger turtle claimed the area of the reef where the smaller one had been feeding but it didn't go for any food. The larger turtle took off in roughly the same direction of the smaller turtle but it seemed as interested in watching me as the smaller turtle. Ultimately they separated from each other in distance and the large turtle came up for air near me. My camera battery indicator had gone to red before I came upon either of the Hawksbills and the sun was low and under cloud cover so I was happy to get any shots at all. All of these Hawksbill shots were with a small waterproof (33feet) Olympus Stylus 770SW which I now swim with most times so I can get a shot but the image quality is not what it would be if I had been using the Nikon D70 with 16 mm lens in the Subal Housing.
The next three shots below were with the Nikon D70 in Subal housing (Most are with an Olympus Stylus 770SW) :
Today, 10-12-07, I was out off airport and came across the Hawksbill I have seen before here that has been tagged. She came up for air right at me and I had to back off a bit so I could get to her side and get a shot of her tag(s). I saw tags on three of her flippers and there may have been one on all four.
Although not very clear in the pic's, this Hawksbill has tag #1D65. I swam south after shooting her and about 50 yards away, I came across the smaller Hawksbill who is the subject of most of these photos (Melinda):
I believe there are three individual Hawksbill turtles shown on this page and all have been feeding on the reef off shore from the Westin complex here at Airport Beach in the last month. There is an additional Hawksbill I have seen earlier in the year who I have seen numerous times back into last year. She has a distinct marking of white on the rear of her shell. It looked like some type of growth or perhaps scar. These Hawksbills break off the dead coral after the sponge and other vegitation nestled within. It is amazing to see them break off a large piece of coral and them try to pin it down with their front flippers so they can get to the food. It would seem that they too can be credited for contributing to the nice coral sand beach at Airport Beach.
Another day and #1D67 is out here again:
Today, 11-11-07 I was out for a swim and came across a young Hawksbill resting on the reef. It was not as comfortable around me which makes me think it has not been in snorkler infested waters much. The profile of its shell is much more pronounced with sharp saw tooth angles at the plates.
A number of the green sea turtles seem to have left the reef and I hope it is for less people populated waters and not due to the Tiger. Hopefully this young Hawksbill will find the reef acceptable and hang around with the two big ones who frequent the reef.
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