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In Search of Leatherbacks in the Kei Islands, Moluccas

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20 November 2009

Second day we were asked to wake up at 5:30am! By after breakfast and 6:15am we were off. The seas were glass flat and calm as. The early morning sun made really brilliant reflections on the water but after 2 hours of searching, we still didn’t see any leatherback turtles.

Yogi spotted the first leatherback marine turtle but no chance at an interaction. The flat calm waters made Yogi’s presence felt right away. His having bright yellow snorkel and yellow fins probably didn’t help either. The second interaction a few minutes after the first didn’t stick around for a photo either. Bummer.

Our skipper Pak Yan said when we see a leatherback and start approaching it, everyone on the boat must take off their hats.  So I took off my hat. Pooh, it was hot. Pak Yan also said if there’s wind, leatherbacks don’t go away as quickly, you could even touch them! Now I wonder if he was pulling our legs.

There were hundreds of these svelte swimmers all around us!There were hundreds of these svelte swimmers all around us!

But we had brilliant dolphin interactions – topside. There were hundreds of them all around. No underwater pictures but Yogi I hope, got some nice close passes of the common dolphins.

Lots of big jellyfish in the water - yummy leatherback turtle food?Lots of big jellyfish in the water - yummy leatherback turtle food?

We also stopped to photograph a nice big pink jellyfish on the water’s surface. Don’t know when we will get these flat seas again, but I thought it would be best to photograph them to get the mirror reflections. Good Yogi didn’t protest. There was a long salp string and I ducked dive to bring it up. In it were tiny fish probably hiding there and using it as their pelagic home.

By 11am,  we were almost out of gas and it was time to head back home for rest and lunch. Tomorrow again . . .

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