On 4-30-09, A large male green was seen resting in some of the holes at Airport Beach. This turtle has a distinct marking in the fact it is missing a section of its tail:
5-7-09 - "Stumpy" shown above has been at the reef a number of times including today (looks like he may stay for a while):
5-11-09 - Stumpy again:
I swam over Stumpy today and waved him up but he wasn't inclined to join me.
I swam on a bit and then felt the urge to look back and there he was, headed up to the surface. I swam back and he turned and faced me and took a "pose" that I don't recall seeing a turtle take. Relaxed? Perhaps not feeling well? It wasn't until I looked at the shots that I realized he had his mouth open initially. I have seen him a couple times open his mouth when he is resting on the bottom, almost like a yawn but then I don't think turtles yawn.
As I drifted in close to him, he took on the typical posture of a turtle at the surface. He brought his fins up to horizontal and took a couple breaths like normal. I have found that turtles seem to be most comfortable with you at their side and not too far behind or certainly not in front of them. I lined up side to side with Stumpy and we drifted in towards each other. For a change in pace, I tried holding the camera down low and shooting up as well as out in front of me and pointed back at the two of us. He was cool with this and even made contact with his flipper touching my shoulder and back a couple times.
He finished up breathing and then headed back to his hole. We had both drifted away from it. Just before his final dive down, he surfaced again for one last breath:
Stumpy has been the only regular green sea turtle this summer and it's a wonder with all of the attention he gets from interested snorkelers. I came upon him with an interested group around him. I watched from a distance and he took a typical number of breaths without seeming bothered by the people around him and a couple who appeared to be touching his back.
His tail seems to be healing over some with less white tissue evident.
Some of his behavior is atypical from what I have seen of other turtles but then I am no expert or even close. In the shot below, there were a number of swimmers not in the frame and he had just made some strange body movements that I took as agitation and I was watching the swimmers more than him. I missed how his air bubble around his head came to be.
7-21-09: I was out on the reef watching "Rocket Girl" the Hawksbill turtle when I saw her look up at the surface. I looked over in the direction she was looking and saw an adult female Green sea turtle swimming down the coast. On closer inspection, I realized she was the same turtle I got some pictures of last year. I presume she is the survivor of a close encounter with a boat propeller.
8-22-09: Out at the outer edge of the reef, I saw the same female green above cruising south about 4' below the surface:
Since sighting the large female above, with the scarred back, I have discovered an isolated coral outcropping out past the first reef where she seems to rest often. I have now seen her there on two different days. She is graceful and slow in her movements and when she gets close, you realize that she is quiet large. Yesterday, I intentionally included this coral spot in my "route" and sure enough, she was down there.
I dove down and got the shot above and then just hovered on the surface above her (~30') for a minute or two. I dove down again and got within 10' of her and gave her a come on up gesturing with my hand. I returned to the surface and as I was rising, I saw her moving out from the coral. She elected to ascend right below me and I moved off a bit for a better viewing angle. She took her sweet time coming up.
Although I was at the best lighting angle, the view was not ideal for pictures. I slowly worked my way around her and I would not move while she had her head above water because I didn't want her surprised at any change in my position when she wasn't watching.
The lighting was poor so I opted to see if I could get a decent shot of her scarred shell at the surface.
The photos can't capture her great mass and size nor can they indicate how still and slow she was in any of her movements.
I have a theory that the turtles somehow recognize the safety in numbers at the surface and provided they don't consider a swimmer or even group of swimmers as a threat or nuisance, they prefer to surface in the presence of others. This might be considered a sign that it is safe on the surface or simply a case of not being the single item on the menu.
After a number of breaths, she began a slow and leisurely decent back to the coral. I took another shot of her shell since the light was not quite as harsh as it was on the surface. In viewing the shot on the computer, I noticed what I had failed to see before. It would seem a couple people needed to write in the algae on her shell.
If the scars are indeed from a propeller, could this graffiti be a case of adding insult to injury?
She is clearly non pulsed in the presence of swimmers but deserving of respect, none the less. Perhaps the next time I see her, the best viewing angle as well as best lighting angle will be one and the same.
I was out looking on the reef for any sign of a Hawksbill turtle when Propeller Girl came into view. She was headed south in a nice leisurely pace not too far below the surface.
I saw some swimmers heading out to join her so I swam back north to look for Hawksbills. I finished up with no sightings and then drifted south. Out at the reefs edge, I came upon a pair of green sea turtles and initially I was concerned that I might have come upon a private affair.
I recognized Prop Girl on the bottom but I didn't see a large tail indicating the other turtle was a male. Prop Girl looked up and saw me and chose to surface.
She is real easy to identify!! Not only is she large and hefty in mass, there's that issue with her scars. I watched the other turtle feeding on the bottom and dove down for a better look. From above, I could see that most of its left rear flipper was missing and there was a nasty gouge in its right front flipper
I headed south again and swam over Prop Girl who was also down feeding. She again surfaced and I took a parting shot.