It’s a true story: How I (Tyler) helped a turtle in distress. Now let me tell you a story about a bag of quarters….
Last week I was teaching a student to scuba dive off the beach of Cooper Island, a small but beautiful island. We were performing some underwater skills when I noticed a rather large turtle resting on the bottom of the shallow water. Now a turtle resting on the bottom is not a uncommon thing to see here, but having a new diver with me who has not seen much of the underwater life I took the opportunity to show the eager student.
In most cases a turtle will let you get with in 10 or so feet before it swims off. Now as I started to get closer and closer with in a couple feet of it, I was very surprised that the turtle had not swam off and I was excited to show my student such a close encounter with this amazing and beautiful creature of the sea.
That’s when I saw it! A plastic zip lock bag sticking out of it’s mouth. At this point I signaled my student to stop and wait. The turtle look at me and I looked at him and with my left hand I rested it on his shell, the turtle did not move but only stared at me. With my right hand I touched the tip of his mouth, the turtle was very calm and peaceful. At this point I am thinking the turtle will get scared and take off but he didn’t. Instead it opened it’s mouth like it was asking for a hand. With it’s mouth wide open I very slowly and cautiously was able to grab the bag. I gave it a gentle pull but it would not come out. Even then the turtle did not flinch. At this point I am thinking to myself, here I am with my hand on the shell of a turtle 17 ft down with a student watching me and about to stick my other hand in a wild creatures mouth that has a strong bite.
So I went for it and grabbed the bag again but the bag still was not coming free. Then the turtle made like a gagging reflex and I was able to pull the bag out of its mouth and throat. That’s when I saw it! The bag was full of quarters. To be exact $10 in quarters. The turtle then swam straight up to the surface and started taking in air.
My student was excited and I was happy to have helped. We continued our class and had a quick swim by from the turtle a little later on before it headed to the deep water.
Please don’t litter. Plastic kills.
July is #PlasticFreeJuly and to bring awareness to why #PlasticPollution is a problem and what we can do to make a difference both above and below the water with #DiveAgainstDebris. Find out more at Project AWARE Foundation