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The safety stopping turtle

by Darren

I’m interrupting the top 10 to post this image of a hawksbill turtle taken in October 2008 in Barbados.

If you’ve been following my previous blog you’ll know that last year I learned to dive so that I can work below the water as well as above, and it’s an experience I’ve very much enjoyed.

One of the downsides of being a newbie is that you tend to be a bit greedy on air and therefore your dive times are shorter than everyone else.  Several times in Barbados I found turtles only to have to surface without seeing much of them due to being low on air.

The other thing you need to be aware of is that while diving at depth, colours are muted and light is limited.  Reds and yellows are lost at just a few metres, meaning most images end up with a bluey green hue.  The way around this is to use strobes (underwater flash) on arms away from the housing but this would have been too much for my novice diving skills.

This image may not be in my top 10 of images, but it’s up there in terms of encounters with wildlife.  Turtles need to breathe at least once every six hours and it seemed my luck was in.  I came across it but knew I was low on air so began to ascend.  It’s common to undertake a safety stop at five metres for three minutes when coming up from depth, so imagine my surprise when the turtle came up with me then hung around while I did my stop.

I was therefore fortunate enough to have plenty of light and colour for the image.  Shortly before I ascended to the surface, the turtle did, took his breath, and went down for another six hours.

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