I’ve been fortunate to see green turtles in the water and on land. On land, they’re most often seen hauling themselves up some sandy beach to bask and rest for a few hours. The effort looks like hard work.
In the water, however, turtles are amazingly graceful. They’re powerful swimmers with great maneuverability. They graze on seaweeds, mostly close to shore. I’ve seen them in shallow waters, white with breaking waves and the worst I’ve witnessed is one or two teetering atop a rock before sliding off again. I’ve never come close to getting a photo of that event.
On this day, there were several turtles feeding in a small bay. A moderate amount of swell ruffled the waters, but every so often a set of two or three much larger waves would barrel in. This was nothing worse than I’d seen turtles handle before, but perhaps these waves were a bit steeper and followed one another a bit quicker. Perhaps, too, these turtles were closer in, bumping among the boulders in the shallowest of waters.
As one big turtle puttered in the shallows, a large wave rushed in and lifted it up and over a rock, dropping it into a water-filled hollow beyond. The turtle scrabbled onto the top of the rock. Here was my photo and my camera was tucked away in its bag on my shoulder. By the time I got the bag unzipped and my camera out, the turtle had enough of its weight across the rock that it slid forward, back into deeper water.
Soon after, another turtle found itself in nearly the same predicament against the same rock. But it wasn’t knocked so far into the hollow and managed to escape much quicker. I did snap a couple of shots, but wasn’t sure if I’d got anything decent.
I hung around, waiting for another big set to come through. When one did, it found the turtle in the photos rattling around amongst the rocks in its quest for food. The onrushing whitewater engulfed the turtle, carrying it in, and when the water receded, the turtle did not.
I started taking photos. The top photo is where the turtle ended up, well up among the rocks. The others show it working like crazy to find a way back to the water. I’ve never seen so much flipper flapping in my life. It was starting to make progress over the first boulder when the next wave arrived, plopping it back where it started. Luckily, that was the end of that big set and over the next few minutes the turtle managed to bump its way over the rocks and into the sea.
Even as I was laughing at this slapstick scene, I hoped the turtle wasn’t injured. I don’t think it was; the waves lifted it over the rocks more than slamming it into them. When it finally slid beneath the water it looked none the worse for wear, though it might have harbored dark thoughts about anyone rude enough to photograph the episode.