A long time ago, when we were scuba diving in Grand Turk, a great dive master told me that when I encounter turtles, as long as I stayed at the turtle’s level or below, the turtle will not see me as a threat. I have been living by this rule since then and have had many wonderful turtle experiences. The turtle would swim along leisurely with me finning to stay beside him, shooting photos, the turtle unconcerned with my presence.
Today we encounter a turtle and I once again put this rule into play. Only today the turtle does not cooperate. We first spot him swimming towards our group of five divers in an unhurried fashion. He doesn’t look threatened that we are there, just keeps swimming toward us.
As he gets closer, I deploy my rule and make sure I am below him and start taking photos. I take one last photo when he is quite near me and perhaps he didn’t like my camera light. For reasons unknown to us the turtle went into attack mode.
Murray was taking a video of the action……
The diver with the yellow cap is Hailey, the dive master. After this video ends, it took Hailey some time to coax the turtle away, even after I swam off, and he went after two of the other divers!
I feel bad about this and have watched the video a number of times and realize what I should have done differently. It is hard to see in the video but the surge was tossing both the turtle and me around making everything harder. Lesson learned……the rule works but err on the cautious side and give turtles a wider berth next time.