Green turtle at Drop Zone

Turtles at Drop Zone, Ponta do Ouro (southern Mozambique)

One morning while we were in Ponta do Ouro, skipper Mike asked us what we wanted to see that day. Laurine had an answer ready: “A turtle!” So we went to Drop Zone.

Green turtle at Drop Zone
Green turtle at Drop Zone

We had not finished descending when Christo, spotter extraodinaire, noticed a turtle near the surface. We were going in opposite directions, though, so it remained in the distance. When we arrived on the reef, we almost immediately came upon another turtle being cleaned by a group of what I think are lined bristletooths, as well as a bright blue wrasse at the turtle’s right back flipper. The fish are nibbling algae off the turtle’s shell; this went on, peacefully, for some time, while we watched.

We continued the dive, and met a second turtle, who was obligingly friendly and swam alongside us (Laurine in particular – I could see her self-actualising right there) for a while.

Later I returned to the same part of the reef where we’d met the first turtle. The spa session was pretty much over, so I took a little more video. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome or make the turtle feel uncomfortable, so I started trying to withdraw from the area. The turtle, however, had other ideas, and approached me head-on while I back-pedalled slowly. It wasn’t at all hostile (hostile turtle, anyone?) but maybe a little curious or maybe just trying to get somewhere and I was in the way.

Being able to observe these creatures in the water is the most amazing privilege. They can live to 80 years of age. I don’t know how old this one was, but based on its carapace length of about 50 centimetres, work done in California suggests that it is perhaps 5-10 years old.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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