10-19-10

I had a 35 mm lens behind flat port for the shots below. The advantage of this is that the

perspective and proportions of the turtles are more normal and not distorted as they would

be using a fish eye lens. The disadvantage is the required further distance from the turtle

and the loss in acuity and sharpness due to turbidity in the water.

I came upon Melinda off the third Westin building feeding on the reef:

When Melinda surfaced we both drifted south and she went further south when she went

back down to the reef. I left her and headed back north and out to the 'burbs to see if

Rocket Girl would be resident once again. It would have made for the third day in a row.

She was not there and I came back into the reef and drifted south thinking I might come

upon Melinda again which I did:

I left Melinda again and headed out to a sand hole to see if a frogfish was still present,

which it was. I wasn't going to attempt any more shots of Melinda because of the less

than ideal visibility. Ironically though, as I headed south and back into the shallow water

I came upon her again. She was at the surface and came my way:

She dropped down to the reef's edge at the north side of one of the large sand holes. I

watched her start to feed and it was clear she had found a spot of interest. I left her and

went south with the current. As the south edge of the hole became visible I spotted a

second hawksbill feeding!! It was Twinkles:

This was the first time I have seen her actually breaking into the coral and feeding like

the big girls. I take this as a sign that she has become a local now for sure.

At this point, I figured I had enough "proof" shots and saw no need for more but these

two turtles were separated by perhaps 40 feet of a sand hole and I decided to hang around

in case there was a chance for an encounter between the two. Melinda had been working

south the whole time and as soon as she was done with the area she was working, her next

stop could be right where Twinkles was; provided Twinkles was still there. If I hung out

above the middle of the sand hole, I could keep an eye on both turtles which is what I

decided to do. Twinkles was the first to come up off the reef and she was headed north.

I dropped down and joined her.

She had just started swimming against the current over the sand hole when I think we both

saw Melinda lift off from the reef and head up and in our way. Although both of them

might have intended to surface, at the best of my observation, they both headed down to

the sand once spotting each other.

What this sequential set of stills utterly fails to capture is the moves these turtles made as

they approached each other and interacted. They both crawled on the sand and with short

flipper steps; akin to a puppie's belly crawl. The whole encounter was similar in

appearance to the behavior of a pair of strange dogs checking each other out.

Melinda is much larger than Twinkles and she closed most of the distance between them.

As she got close and head on to Twinkles, Twinkles sucked her head in and made a bit of

a retreat as you can see in the image below.

They proceeded to get eye to eye.

At this point, I wanted to drop down closer for some clearer shots.

Shot below is a crop of the one directly above:

I went back to the surface and continued to watch the circling and checking each other

out. Melinda ended up crawling away and up towards the north end of the sand hole.

After a few moments, Twinkles proceeded with her "puppy crawl" over to Melinda:

I was surprised when Melinda started to crawl away and then lift off the sand and head

south. In the shot below, she was moments from leaving.

Twinkles remained in place down in the sand and I dove down for a shot:

She finally headed up and south as well.

It was a really cool encounter with the two and I am sorry I wasn't in a position to take

some video of them.