The Captain’s Blog: Spectacular Turtles!

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Hundreds of turtles going ashore to lay eggs

Another amazing Blog from Mike Ball Dive Expedition’s Captain Trevor Jackson

I’ve been at sea for 38 years. There’s not a whole lot out here that can make me ‘just shut up and look’, these days. But such was the scene at Raine Island just now. Everyone was back onboard, the tenders hoisted into their cradles… It was late in the day… The sun was trying to bust through the cumulus for one last peek at the island… the dusk was golden… And there they were, on the beach… Turtles… Not dozens, not even hundreds… but thousands!

One of the hundreds of turtles

I radioed the dive deck, stuck my head through the saloon door, got on the intercom. I told everyone, crew and guests alike…  “Drop what you’re doing, and take ten. Come and see one of the wonders of the natural world unfold right before your eyes!”

We were so close to the shore, just drifting sideways at half a knot, literally metres outside the protected zone. The beach at Raine Island is unbelievably steep. “How do they even make it up that slope?”. Everyone was thinking that at the same time. We could see the sand getting swept aside as they clawed their way up the embankment. A silent unstoppable march in the dying light.

Raine Island’s unusual coral formations

The whole day had been awe-inspiring. A crack o’ dawn dive on the wreck of the HMS Pandora; then Tiger sharks, Great Hammerheads, 40 metre viz and countless turtles in the water here at Raine. It was our second day at the island and the turtles on both days were so thick that every boat movement had to be done at an idle. And still now, even as it seemed like every single turtle in the known universe was halfway up that beach, they cloaked the sea in every direction. Quiet fell across the decks. It was one of those moments you remember for all your days. Spears of golden light, distant tropical rain, and an unfathomable determination on the beach. A genuine wow moment, in a world were nothing seems to wow anyone, anymore.

Indigenous art of stingrays and turtles on Stanley Island

I nudged the boat back into gear. Pushed the wheel towards the western horizon and ghosted away. All eyes stayed on the beach till the gold turned to grey. Evening came. The turtles are up there laying their eggs now and we are southbound. And but for the sound of the birds and the sweeping sand, Raine Island is quiet for another year.


Find the expedition you are looking for at: www.mikeball.com/compare-expeditions

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions operates exciting scuba diving expeditions on custom-built, award-winning liveaboard Spoilsport, to some of the best dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Enjoy spectacular biodiversity on the northern Great Barrier Reef including the world famous Cod Hole, or venture out into the remote Coral Sea for exciting big fish action, shark encounters and excellent visibility. Find out more at www.mikeball.com.

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