Hawaiian Turtles

Yes, it's true, I never saw a turtle until I went to Hawaii.   I've been snorkelling on trips when divers in the party saw a turtle, but that's as close as I ever came (if you don't count the multitudes of stuffed turtles on sale in Okinawa).   However, Hawaii totally turned the tables on this sorry situation, as you'll see.

The first place I went snorkelling in Hawaii was at Oahu's Hanauma Bay.   I went on three consecutive days, and each time saw a turtle...

turtle in sunlit water

This turtle's marked with a number "23" on its shell, presumably by researchers.

turtle cruising through water

Three turtles in three days, is pretty good going, right?

turtle closeup cruising through water

Well, how about three turtles in one snorkelling trip?   That's what happened at the Big Island's Kahaluu Bay, a very small and crowded beach close to the main tourist center at Kona.   And the second time I went swimming there it was even better!   Almost as soon as I got into the water I saw three turtles in one place and took a photo to prove it (the water was very turbid because it was shallow and wave beaten, so I haven't put that photo on the website), then I looked around and realized that I could see five turtles all in the same place at the same time!   On that one occasion fairly early in the morning I counted between ten and twelve different turtles.

two turtles facing each other underwater

I'm told that at Kahaluu the turtles haul up onto the beach to sun themselves even when there are lots of people around.

turtle floating serenely in the water column

Certainly almost all the turtles I saw seemed fairly relaxed around people...

turtle diving from mirrored surface of the sea with snorkeller behind

turtle banking away from swimmer

They allowed me to swim alongside and around them to take photos...

closeup of turtle swimming away

turtle swimming towards me

They didn't bat an eyelid when I got up close and took photographs with my powerful strobe light...

closeup of turtle

turtle eating algae

And even when they were engrossed in eating algae they paid no attention to my presence.

turtle eating algae

I saw so many turtles that on several occasions I turned away from a turtle to get a photo of a fish which wandered into the area.

turtle with marvellously colored and patterned shell

Still, the beauty of these creatures is definitely the single biggest highlight of my underwater experiences in Hawaii.

turtle immediately below the mirrored surface of the ocean