Where Are The Sea Turtles?
By Megan Maynard
Editor’s Note: Here in Central Florida, we are most familiar with sea turtles on our beaches during nesting season, yet these marine creatures can be encountered in the water as well. Please visit our Loggerhead Lowdown blog here over the next few weeks as some of our writers and STPS members describe their own experiences with sea turtles in the water.
Many locals are familiar with the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge as “Sea Turtle Central” during the summer months. When winter arrives in Florida, the nests have hatched and the newest hatchlings are on their ocean journey. Where are turtles during the remainder of the year? What do they do?
I am blessed to volunteer with STPS, but my first experience with sea turtles was under the waves scuba diving. Unlike their labored beach walks during nesting season, sea turtles’ abilities underwater are astounding. Not limited by size or weight, their speed and agility are impressive. I often see several species on a single dive, including greens, loggerheads, and hawksbills. One day… I will see a leatherback.
As you’ll see in the photos, I often run into sea turtles on our dives. Sleeping or feeding are what’s most commonly observed. They must come to the surface to breathe, although less often while sleeping. In nesting season, the turtles are too numerous to count on most of my dives. The most memorable moments are when you encounter a friendly turtle. Swimming slowly, breathing calmly, they will often continue their activity or come closer to observe you. To be so close as a turtle observes you is a unique feeling that you never grow tired of.