Back to the Big Blue

As usual, the weather report got it complete wrong. Yup,#TwoOceansTurtles Tuesday dawned, but instead of bright and sunny, it damp-squibbed onto the horizon all foggy and blustery.For the 56x rehabilitated turtles waiting to be released, this proved no issue, but you can bet I wasn’t the only photographer lamenting the lack of decent light.

These curious marine extraterrestrials (to me, they all look a little bit like Yoda or ET), were soon loaded on the ‘Hooked on Africa’ charter boat, with a combo of Two Oceans Aquarium crew and assorted media setting off in search of the warmer water an hour or so south of Cape Point.

These warmer currents occur where the continental shelf drops off to anything from 300-500m, with temps of 20+ Degrees Celsius enabling the safe release of the assorted hawksbill and green turtles.

Here, within the endless blue roil of the Atlantic, is where they live and thrive. It is a place of monster swells, shy albatrosses, swooping petrels and with just a smudge of the horizon occasionally glimpsed through the heavy mist.

Once you jump off the boat, you will float above an abyss so deep and utterly mesmerising, you will hardly be able to breathe when you first stare down into its absolute aqua stillness.

The 80kg+ Otto, arguably the biggest hawksbill ever to be rehabbed anywhere in the world, was the first release of the day. She immediately sensed where she was and – while Nick, Kevin, Kai and the rest of the crew held her – her flippers started a swimming motion in anticipation of the Atlantic’s embrace.

Her ocean was calling her, and you could see the need to dive into this aquamarine element vibrating through every pore of her turtle being. She dipped under the surface and made a bee-line straight to where we waited in the Big Blue, passing right under our cameras before sounding into the impenetrable jade world far below.

The job was not done, however, with 55x other turtles awaiting their freedom. Even Chris Bertish - Ocean Adventurer extraordinaire – was there to help with his SUP to get these little guys safely back into the serenity of their marine domain.

A radio transmitter attached to Otto’s shell means the #2OAcrew will get regular updates into her movement patterns, enabling them to better protect and rehabilitate these incredible creatures of the deep. And yes, you can help, too … more info on www.aquarium.co.za

 Click here to view the pics

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