On 3 January 2011 at, we were heading back to the liveaboard after the perfect second dive at Kudara Thila, South Ari atoll, Maldives and enjoying the feeling of there being nothing but us and the blue sky in the middle of the ocean.
Suddenly, our dive guide shouted, “Stop and turn back the boat!”
We all stood up and looked around to see what was going on. Then we saw something floating on the surface 100 m away from us. At first I thought it was someone’s wetsuit or something similar, but as we approached, I was shocked to see that it was three turtles caught in a fishing net! They were all struggling to escape and as we had no idea how long they had been in the net, realized that we needed to rescue them as soon as possible.
The boat crews caught the net and tried to hold it tight. This caused the turtles to panic and to try to escape even more vigorously. Bettina, my German friend, jumped into the water with a knife while the boat crew and the dive guide held each turtle tightly. Bettina was cutting the net carefully and I decided to get in the water with my camera to document the rescue and to take photos as proof of the miserable and sad situation. It was not easy to cut the net as the other two turtles kept struggling. However, Bettina concentrated on cutting as fast as she could and finally got the first turtle free. As soon as the turtle felt freedom, she quickly dived down to the deep blue. Then we started to save the second and the third one.
While I was taking the pictures, I became emotional and very angry, but I was relieved and happy to see them all free. I still can’t forget the turtle’s eyes when we arrived, so full of fear and helplessness. Bettina told me after she had cut them free that she could feel how soft and relaxed their bodies were. When she began the turtles were scared and fought against her, but as time went by, they seemed to understand what she was trying to do and they relaxed, trusted her and let her do her job.
After saving all three turtles successfully, we all felt like heroes. So happy and proud, but on the other hand, we were ashamed that we belong to a society which has no respect for nature and isn’t even thankful for it. Someday we will ask ourselves, why we don’t have beautiful nature any more, but by then it will be too late.