Everyone loves sea turtles and the lucky few actually get to see one in the wild. But what if you could swim beside one and understand how it feels to truly connect with one of the ocean's most beautiful creatures? Imagine how it would feel if the turtles actually approached you, allowing you to put your face within inches of theirs as you looked into their eyes.
Serena is a young diver who experiences this on many of her dives. She started scuba diving at the age of 13 and it was immediately clear that she had a true gift for putting the underwater animals at ease. Now 19 years old, she has logged over 100 dives and continues to impress her family with her remarkable ability.
It is not uncommon to see Serena slowly making her way toward a turtle that is eating or cruising along the reef. Her calm and gentle approach seems to reassure these creatures enough that they carry on without being concerned. They will often look at her curiously and sometimes they will simply act as if she is not there.
What is truly remarkable about Serena though, is that turtles will often come swimming toward her from a distance, making a beeline to see her up close. Or if they are swimming with her, they will actually circle her or adjust their course to move closer. Serena's family even call her the "Turtle Whisperer".
This video shows her swimming face to face with a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a critically endangered species that is usually shy in nature. It also shows a young Loggerhead Sea Turtle that emerges from the vast blue of the open ocean, making a curved arc to swim directly up to Serena. These turtles are also very rare and the young ones are very wary of people.
Serena can be seen connecting with a Green Turtle that came up from its resting spot on the coral reef to have a closer look. It was so curious that it made a complete circle around her before returning to the reef.
Another Hawksbill looks at Serena and then continues to eat before it swims directly under her to explore the reef for more sponges.
The last Hawksbill glides slowly along,keeping pace with Serena at no more than two feet away.
All of these turtles were close enough for her to touch them, yet they were completely relaxed. Serena proves that being respectful, patient and gentle in your approach will allow you to connect with wild animals in a way that most people only dream about.