Tuesday 20 May 2014

Heroes in a Half Shell: Turtle Dive!!

We had heard rumours of his existence and apparently he always appeared at the same time every day.

turtle grazes on sea grass in cyprusThis was it! My afternoon was free and I had no divers to guide and no students to teach so I attached myself to Pete's training session down at Green Bay, camera in hand and heart in throat.

Would he still be there waiting for me?

Yes, he was!

There is nothing so peaceful as watching a turtle graze at a dive site. Settling down as he moves gracefully across the seabed it didn't take long until he seemed quite comfortable with my presence. Almost a "don't disturb me and I won't run away" pact was silently agreed between us.

As I pulled out the camera, he gave me a quick second glance before returning to his dinner of Poseidonia sea grass, unperturbed by this monstrous black housing I was pointing in his direction.

sea turtle having lunch in protaras cyprus
I was certainly rewarded as he posed away for the camera, quite often looking directly into the lens for me. This was one very accommodating turtle.

When he had had enough of me, he simply turned his back and this, I took as my cue to leave him be to finish his feast in style.

Although it can be fairly common to spot turtles here in Cyprus, one which allows you to sit with it and watch is quite rare and a great privilege also. These are majestic creatures that are desperately in need of our protection.

Some cultures see turtles as a resource to be exploited for medicines and cosmetics or as a delicacy for the table. Some just want to have a turtle shell for decoration, which has led to between 48% and 54% of the 328 species of turtle being threatened.

Close up of a turtle's faceThe Green Sea turtle is considered a success story after having been declared a threatened species, steps were taken to protect it and numbers have been recovering. However, there is plenty more to do.

As a scuba diver I try to look out for the local wildlife by removing any rubbish and debris from the water to prevent them injuring themselves on it. For turtles in particular, removing plastic bags from the water is important, as they can mistake these for jellyfish and suffocate.

Only one thing left to day and that is to implore you to look after our wildlife and protect our turtles:

Heroes in a Half-shell.... Turtle Power!!!

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