Today Sirena headed south to dive Breaker’s reef for the first dive. Under clear skies and flat seas we traveled close to shore in search of spinner sharks. The anticipation of seeing these amazing creatures rocket out of the water in chase of baitfish is something we look forward to every year.
We descended on Breakers near three windows. From the surface of the water I could clearly see to the bottom at 60 feet. There was barely any current. Along our underwater adventure we encountered a trumpetfish who was nuclear hunting with a pair of french angelfish. A lonely stingray glided over the reef and out towards the sand.
Approaching the last two fingers of Breaker’s reef, the marine life exploded in full splendor. The water column was teaming with atlantic spadefish! In hopes of capturing their beauty, I switched my camera to video and began capturing footage. As I panned away from the school of spade fish, on the edge of my camera screen, a female loggerhead swam into view. I slowly swam to it still rolling film. A school of jack approached the turtle and away the turtle rocketed. Whoever says turtles are slow has never seen a loggerhead swimming at mach 5 speeds.
As I turned back towards the reef, I could see a nurse shark resting under the ledge. My video still chugging away. I turn to my left and a goliath grouper was poking its head over the ledge intently watching my every move. As I swam over to it, I noticed it had a friend. I was laughing in joy at the series of events occurring one after another. But nature wouldn’t stop there…. Cue in the large southern stingray! With it’s gang of cobias, the stingray swam right at me, turning away at the last minute.
I began to ascend shortly thereafter thinking the show was over, but I noticed a goatfish hovering quite high in the water column. A second later, another goatfish comes careening straight at the other goatfish, and they joust in their own goat-like style! After I was sure the show was over, I began my second ascent laughing all the way to the surface. My mind thought of the perfect name for this small area of reef: The Breaker’s Highway!
Back at the surface, it appeared as though captain Dean had turned on the wind machine. The wind had clocked around and we were gently rolling over 2-3 foot seas. We slowly motored to the Toy Box for our second dive.
The Toy Box, a huge barge sitting east and west, was teaming with fish life. I was busy photographing the view and divers. I was noticing the amount of fishing line, plastic bags, and anchor line in one spot when Lindsay gave me the cross sign underwater. She pointed under the bow of the barge, and much to my sadness, a tiny green sea turtle lay lifeless. My heart sank seeing this image.
I looked at it for any sign that would indicate how it passed away. Aside from a minuscule scratch on its shell, there was nothing to suggest any external cause for the turtle to die. Having just seen all the debris in the area, my best guess was that it might have died from ingesting some plastic. The plastic bags that are a part of our daily life are detrimental to the natural world. Green sea turtles are known to eat jellyfish; a plastic bag floating in the water column could easily be mistaken as a jelly by these turtles. Sadly, the bag gets trapped in the turtle’s digestive system, and the turtle eventually dies.
I photographed my lifeless little turtle friend next to the plastic bag and fishing line in the hopes that his death would not be in vain. I will use photograph as a reminder to everyone how our actions at home affect our natural world.
I was determined to find out what happened to the little turtle so I took him with me so that the wonderful people at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center could hopefully have a closer look at the turtle to determine what might have happened.
While visiting the Loggerhead Marine Life Center, the veterinarians were busy taking care of a little green sea turtle about the same size as the one I had just encountered. The little guy had been attacked by a shark, but survived. He appeared to be in good health and the vets patched him up real well. I also visited a sickly loggerhead turtle I encountered at the bridge named Cliff. He was appearing in much better condition than when I last saw him. My spirit was uplifted as I left the Loggerhead Marine Life Center.
Here is a video direct from the Breaker’s Highway: