On Saturday morning Freddy and I snorkelled to the coral reef at l'Escapade Island Resort. The water was cool and reasonably clear for the inner lagoon at Ilot Maitre.
The enormous school of yellow grunts were there, as usual, and I wondered why it is that individual fish swimming apart from the school allowed me to come very close to photograph them but the school itself would not let me approach closer than about 3 metres. Maybe, I thought, because the group as a whole responded to the evasion movements of most timid individual amongst them while the independent individuals were the least timid of them all.
As I created this sphere image of the ever-changing shoal of fish, a hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) came leisurely cruising by, passing only a metre from my camera, only mildly curious and not the least alarmed by my presence. This is a critically endangered species and I was delighted to see it.
Ilot Maitre, like much of the southern lagoon of New Caledonia has been a marine reserve for many years and the sea life is slowly coming to trust humans who venture into their domain. Experiencing that trust on Saturday morning was wonderful. I smiled and said (silently) "Thank you, turtle, my friend."
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