Ronnie is a scuba dive master in Papua New Guinea who loves the ocean and all the creatures who live there. He works as a scuba dive master who takes clients to some of the most fascinating and remote areas in PNG. The reefs are pristine and beautiful beyond words.
One of Ronnie's favourite spots is a large coral head that almost reaches the surface, just off a very quiet island that sees humans only a few times each year. It is here that he helped to release two rescued Hawksbill sea turtles. They had been struggling at a very young age and a group of rehab workers nursed them along and brought them back from certain death. Undernourished, the two adorable little animals were slowly starving. With the right care and a proper supply of food, these turtles began to thrive. They spent over a year in captivity until they were strong enough and large enough to release. Although they had been kept as wild as possible during their rehabilitation, they did learn to associate humans with food and assistance.
After release, Ronnie has checked on the turtles several times each year and he interacts with them as they happily greet him. Sea turtles are intelligent and inquisitive and it is well documented that they have the ability to distinguish one human from another. They undoubtedly trust all of the scuba divers who come here with Ronnie but they respond very enthusiastically when they find him among the group.
These two turtles spotted him and made a beeline right for him. After looking them over and making sure they appear healthy, Ronnie will often poke around in the hard to reach crevices to find some of the yellow spong that thrives here. This is their favourite food and they circle him like hungry dogs waiting for a treat. Ronnie must actually nudge the turtles out of the way as he pokes among the rocks for the sponge. When he finds a chunk, he gently lures one of the turtles a few feet away from where he is digging so he can get at more. These turtles would eat from his hands all day long.
Hawksbill sea turtles are the most beautiful and well-loved of all sea turtles. Their gorgeous shell patterns made them a target for hunters who sold the shells for jewelry and ornaments. They were also hunted for their meat. In the last century, they were pushed to the brink of extinction. Fortunately, conservation efforts and more strict enforcement of laws in many countries have made it less desirable to hunt or traffic in these animals.
Hawksbills are generally shy and reclusive, preferring to swim away when they encounter humans underwater. Occasionally, they will be curious and a cautious approach may allow a prolonged look. For Ronnie's scuba guests, this meeting with his turtle friends was an exciting experience that they will never forget.