Scuba Diver Has Incredible Moment With Two Critically Endangered Sea Turtles
Hawksbill sea turtles are one of the most beautiful turtles in the world. They are also one of the most endangered. Hunted to near extinction in the past 50 years for their beautiful shells, these turtles declined to less than 20 per cent of their numbers. Fishing and catch nets also took their toll o the turtles, as did habitat destruction, pollution and egg harvesting. Extremely rare, these turtles bring a lot of delight to divers who are lucky enough to meet up with one of them on the reef.
Chris is a biology student with a love for all animals, especially turtles. As he hovered over the coral in Little Cayman Island watching a large female Hawksbill grazing on small sea sponges, he was thrilled to be enjoying such a close look. The turtle was undisturbed by his presence and it calmly went about feeding while he drifted almost motionless, only a few feet away. Unbelievably, this smaller Hawksbill turtle that we see descending from the surface, swam over and joined the larger turtle on the bottom. The two had a brief interaction with the smaller turtle seeming to actively seek contact with the larger one. It also seems unsure of whether it was being welcomed completely and it swam in a lazy circle before deciding that the larger turtle was OK. Chris drifted in carefully and used two fingers to grip a stone in order to prevent himself from being pushed by the ocean surge and going too close to the animals.
This is when the most incredible part of the encounter happened. The smallest turtle drifted toward Chris, stared at him briefly and then began nibbling at the coral right below him with her back fins in contact with Chris' hand.
Responsible scuba divers will not actively seek physical contact with marine animals, but when it happens in cases like this, they can't conceal their excitement. Chris is reluctant to move his hand and startle the turtle but he sneaks a glance at his father who is recording this and his grin is obvious, even with the regulator in his mouth.
After a few more seconds of observing these two beautiful creatures, the two scuba divers slowly drift upwards and away, ending the encounter. To meet two such rare and beautiful creatures at once is a moment to remember forever.