A lone hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) grazing on a shallow reef in the Komodo National Park. Hawksbills are possibly the most common turtles that we regularly encounter in Indonesia. The Komodo area is one of the best places in the country to encounter them. Due to the protected status of the park, and the number of divers in the area, turtles here aren’t shy. It’s quite common to be able to get up close and personal with one throughout the area. This is much different than in many other areas of the world, where turtles flee from divers. Most likely this is due to local hunting in a particular area, either in the past or present. Like all species of sea turtles, hawksbill turtles are considered endangered and in need of protection.
One of the best sites to encounter turtles is Tatawa Besar. This reef slope is a great dive with colourful soft corals, schooling fish, and the chance to see mantas or eagle rays. The dive is normally a wonderful drift dive with amazing encounters throughout. However, the safety stop is one of the true highlights. The shallows are full of healthy hard coral throughout. I love to spend more than three minutes swimming in 5 metres or less. The reason for this is the opportunity to find turtles. Hawksbill turtles are commonly found in the shallows digging up their favourite snack, encrusting sponge. These resident turtles are almost always around and never seem to stop eating!
This photograph was taken late in the day around 4 or 5pm. The wonderful low light of the “golden hour” is what truly makes this photo. The “negative space” created by the deep blue and dappled light add a great background to the turtle. Shot with a Nikon D7200, 10-17mm Tokina at 13mm, f11, 1/200, ISO 320, Sea and Sea Strobes. Join us on a trip in 2021 in order to photograph these wonderful sea turtles.