Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered animals that have been hunted to near extinction. Their strikingly beautiful shells were sought after for hairbrushes, ornaments, and furniture accents. Also part of the meat trade for many years, their numbers declined rapidly.
Thankfully, they have started to bounce back due to laws that make hunting them illegal. Conservation efforts have further helped bring them back from the edge of disappearing forever.
Scuba divers consider a hawksbill sighting to be a rare and memorable treat. They gracefully glide over the coral in search of food and they will occasionally allow a careful scuba diver to make a respectful approach. They are shy and reclusive, in most cases, and such encounters are generally brief. But this scuba diver has very slowly and quietly moved close to a gorgeous turtle who is munching away on coral and sea sponges on the reef in Belize.
Scuba divers who truly want to get a close up look at animals in their habitat understand that patience will reward them with experiences like this one. The sea turtle accepted the diver's presence and continued to eat and ignore the diver while doing so. Even a large angelfish joined i, eating the scraps that floated free from the turtle's meal. The diver has positioned himself to the side, and below, avoiding the overhead approach that might suggest that he is a predator. He carefully keeps his breathing slow and regular, and he moves slowly and not directly toward the turtle. These small things are very important as animals depend on interpreting small cues for their survival.
Being able to interact with and watch such a beautiful creature as this hawksbill sea turtle is what drives people to strap on tanks of air and venture far beneath the surface of the ocean. The beauty beneath the waves is indescribable.