Today, 8-21-09, I was informed by a reef researcher who had just returned from diving on the reef that she and her partner had seen a Hawksbill out there and possibly two of them. I went out and came across one after fighting a very healthy north to south current for some time. I didn't recognize this turtle but it has been some time since I last saw Melinda. The turtle seemed smaller than Melinda and although it was not bothered by my proximity down on the reef, when it surfaced, it was obviously wary of me and I had to give it quite a bit of sea room for it to be comfortable passing through the last couple feet and actually taking a breath. I took some pics and then left it to its feeding.
Upon viewing the images I got, this is clearly a new Hawksbill for me and not one I have identified since I started trying to keep track of individual turtles. I have elected to call her Misty.
In the photo above, you can see that a scale separation starting at the forward edge of her left eyebrow does not in fact complete its transit to her right eyebrow. This will be a clear and easy identifier for her.
I used a white card of MCPET to get an idea of the necessary white balance adjustments for these shots.
Ever since I spotted Rocket Girl eating the Turbinaria Ornata algae, I have been curious if this is also a forage source for other Hawksbill turtles. I hope to encounter Melinda who is very comfortable in my presence and see if she has interest. This new Hawksbill seemed to be aware and show interest in a piece I took down with me but the strong current and my inability to hold my breath long enough resulted in me dropping it down in front of her. As I surfaced, I saw her make an advance towards it but the swift current swept it past her quite quickly. She then elected to surface and as she came up towards me, we both drifted south of where she had been feeding.
As I mentioned above, she also wanted a good distance between us which I granted by backing up with the current while she made some effort not to be completely in its flow. Had there not been this current, I might have made an additional attempt with the algae. I took a few shots of her surfacing and then let the current take me away while she swam back into it to get back to where she had been feeding.
When I saw that she was again settled on the reef, I swam back and took another shot of her, suspecting at the time that I would want some images of her for later as I felt she was new to the scene. Perhaps I have encountered her in years past but not to my present knowledge.