Today, 3-2-09, I got a call from my friend Karen that there were a pair of turtles just off the beach in front of her house that were engaged in "doing the wild thing" if I recall her words correctly. I have seen mating turtles a couple of times but thought this might be a chance to get some shots from land so I drove up there. When I got to the cove and parked, I saw that the turtles had been driven by the numerous waves in way too close to the end of the cove and they seemed headed for trouble. Karen mentioned on the phone that the pair was listing to one side and she did not see their heads up out of the water that often.
The road is about 15' above the beach and in no time, the turtles had drifted in under a keave tree and out of view from above. I went down the path to the beach and over to see what they were up to.
The numerous waves coming in were driving the pair into the trees and rocks at shore's edge.
What I did not photograph were the number of waves and times the turtle(s) were covered and washed over. My memory is vague now but once the turtles were washed into and under one branch, they separated and the male took off. The female was swept under a branch shore side.
Initially (above) she tried to swim under the branch but she had been swept down the beach a bit and where she was, she could not clear through the rocks and overhanging branch. Subsequent waves pushed her closer to the beach.
There were numerous obstacles in her way and she would attempt to move out in one spot to be pushed back by a wave and then she would try somewhere else. She ended up getting lifted by the waves into a grotto of rock which were not easy for her to climb or thread through.
With many failed attempts at getting past the rocks and tree branches, the waves eventually carried her closer into shore and onto the beach.
She appeared exhausted and for good reason! I don't know how much she struggled with the male coupled to her but to end up washed ashore and stuck under branches and in the rocks likely took additional energy from her. She was breathing rather rapidly once on the beach and by all appearance, seemed washed up and beat.
After a while, she seemed to be settled down and was just resting. I had to wait on her to get shots with her head up and looking alert because for the most part, her head was down on the sand. She reminded me of a monk seal and its lack of movement when they rest on the beach. I had no idea I would have the rare chance of photographing a turtle out of the water and all of the shots above were with a 300 mm telephoto lens. It was obvious that she wasn't going to scurry back into the water any time soon so I went back to my van and grabbed another camera with an 80 mm lens. The shots below were taken with that camera:
During the time these shots were taken, waves would continue to wash up and on occasion, a large one would move her about a bit. After one such wave, she turned about and seemed to be heading back to sea.
She encountered a speed bump that ended up being a chin rest for a number of minutes.
Finally with some helping waves, she again set forth.
Had she gone to her left, she would have had a clear shot out but she let the waves pull her into the rocks again.
Eventually the waves carried her out of the rocks and back to the beach. The next time, she kept clear of the rocks and charted a course to clear waters.
She made it back out and initially her tail end was floating up but it seemed she sorted out her ballast and trim and disappeared beneath the surface. Her tryst this day seemed a case of "love on the rocks".