Oh, how I wish I were joking. He seemed so peaceful digging his head into the water eating algae, from the rock floor crevices. Green turtles (honu in Hawaiian), are a protected species on the Islands, so I was careful to keep my distance while I photographed. Using a zoom lens gave me great shots, but I was lacking something in environmental awareness.
I saw the wave crash in just fast enough to stand up and start to lift my camera out of the spray. As the wave came in, I saw it hit the turtle (which we were standing directly behind) and start to sweep it towards us. We were standing on slippery rock coated in algae, with 3-foot wave and accompanying 75 lb. turtle suddenly rushing towards us. Visions of my beloved camera soaked, broken, and drifting in pieces on the rock flashed in front of my as I jumped as high as I could.
The turtle caught me in the knees and it swept under me, knocking me backwards, but miraculously I landed on both feet, camera still safely lifted (mostly) above the wave’s spray. The disgruntled turtle landed almost on the sand, a good few feet behind us, but soon began picking it’s way back to the algae.
Our expedition started calmly enough. We had a vacation day for King Kamehameha’s birthday and decided to spend it looking for turtles in North Shore. The turtles weren’t hard to find. We barely stepped onto the beach before we found the first three turtles, marked off with a red rope in the sane and surrounded by tourists.
As cool as it was to see them chilling there with all the tourists, seemingly not minding the mass of people surrounding them, I wanted to see if I could find them in a more natural, less crowded habitat. We had barely walked 5 minutes when we reached the next turtle. (Yes, the one that ran me over.)
It wasn’t long before another group of tourists happened upon this guy, and without the lifegaurd and rope, they quickly surrounded him and started petting him. “Look, don’t touch” is pretty simple concept, but apparently it escaped this group of tourists. It wasn’t long before we decided to keep watching.
Although we didn’t see any more on shore, we could see plenty just past the waves. The beach was awash with turtles. If you were looking, you couldn’t miss their shapes in the water.
Without a doubt, this was the most incredible trip we’ve taken since arriving in Hawaii. Although we were only at the beach for an hour, we saw a dozen or more turtles, easily. One more picture, because I love the colors, and I’m done with my ode to turtle life (for now).