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Friendly Turtle Syndrome

Ever seen it?

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#1 diver dave1

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:30 PM

Turtles often are shy and move away or perhaps tolerate me briefly.  I seem to find one consistent exception.  When they are feeding on sponge, they ignore me when they are eating.  Once finished, they are nearly always as friendly as a puppy.  Sometimes they follow me and I stop and rub their neck, fins, and generally have an amazing time.  Seen it in both the pacific and carib. on numerous occasions.


Anyone else have this happen to them?

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#2 John Bantin

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 10:17 PM

When animals are feeding they can be very distracted (hence close-up photography of sharks almost always involve food). Hawkbill turtles often mistake the twinkle of dome ports for jellyfish, which enables those great close-ups. Similarly, if you stumble across one eating sponge, they will stay with the food. Green turtles love seagrass and there are many places in the world where feeding green turtles can easily be photographed.

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Edited by John Bantin, 09 May 2013 - 11:36 PM.

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#3 Balrog


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Posted 09 May 2013 - 10:36 PM

I think its all in the nature of your approach.


If they are snoozing, they often get surprised and take flight when they spot you.

If they are swimming its difficult to approach other than on a broad arc without appearing to be chasing them - a fruitless effort.

If they are feeding its possible to approach casually and allow them time to conclude that you are not a threat.


So, yes, when feeding is the easiest time to get close up and intimate.

#4 MortenHansen


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Posted 10 May 2013 - 01:49 AM

I've had turtles trying to eat my alternative airsource, fins and camera, I've had turtles blatantly ram me, even had a turtle poop on my head once (of course it was caught on video...) and for sure turtles are much more docile when they are eating, I mean, aren't we all? :)


So yes, sometimes they are even a little too friendly, if there is such a thing :)


Edited by MortenHansen, 10 May 2013 - 01:50 AM.

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#5 DamonA


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Posted 11 May 2013 - 07:12 AM

Had a smallish hawksbill turtle in Thailand once swoop down from above just clipping the back of my head, probably current affected and it underestimated the effort to pass over me, it startled me but I didn't freekout.


Another one in the similians hanging off the dive platforming eating the rinds of watermelon the cook was throwing in. It was very photogenic, and clean shelled.


I have a spot here in Brisbane with very approachable turtles, its a cleaning station with always over a half a dozen large green and loggerhead turtles there hanging allowing the moon wrasse and rabbit fish to gnaw at the algae and barnicles on their back- I sometimes give em a scratch, if they seem happy to do so and I don't have a camera in hand, it gets the moon wrasse into a frenzy eating the fallout. They have done enormous damage to the staghorn coral in this site, its annual repairing making it all flatopped and solid like a slab of concrete, also some damage to the coral by a boat that sunk 25 years ago. There is no sea fans here probably because of turtles. This spot has had turtle there possibly for 10's of thousands of years. Bubble coral is very scarce and with the tiger sharks all but gone, it will become a problem with too many turtles here.


I have noticed smaller turtles following, but never the real big ones which seem to go about their own business or asleep with their heads tucked under a ledge(in which case I leave them well alone, don't even photo them).

Edited by DamonA, 11 May 2013 - 07:15 AM.

#6 Kelpfish


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Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:39 AM

John is right about animals, at least some, are easier to approach while they're feeding.  This is a pic of a feeding bat ray, not a turtle, but validates John's point.

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Edited by Kelpfish, 12 May 2013 - 05:40 AM.

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