It is the morning of New Years Eve. A very nice sized loggerhead sea turtle was chewing on something on the deck of shipwreck USCGC Duane. I swam closer and closer to it and even if I am sure he was aware of me, it was too focused on what he was eating to pay me any attention. Which I took as an approval of getting as close as possible, and then stop to hover in one spot to just watch. Being close to an animal on land is great, being close to an animal in the wild is greater. It is impossible for me to not feel the respect for the animal and its habitat (it is his home and I am just a guest) and amazed by the natures wonder; so I pay them respect by keeping my distance and to never touch the animal. But I do get to see the turtles face closely. Everything in water looks closer that it really is.
I know that many people are fans of sea turtles, especially after my volunteering at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. I find their way of swimming impressive. Despite their clumsy bodies they can really move gracefully in water. They move forward, despite their slow pace, something I have noticed when I have gone after them to get that great picture of them. This time I didn’t carry my camera with me since the wind above water had been quite intense and I didn’t want to take the risk of keeping track of the camera in case the current was bad. And by the way, when I dove USCGC Duane in September last year there was hardly any sea life there anyway, so I left my camera on board. I was wrong twice; today there were more fish around the shipwreck than ever and no current that I was aware of. We saw one Lion Fish, two loggerhead sea turtles, two nurse sharks inside the shipwreck and my husband saw a stingray when I was busy getting back on board the dive charter.
USCGC Duane was a Coast Guard Cutter and did its first voyage in 1936. It was used as a weather station most of her years, but also assisted in both World War II and the war in Vietnam 1967-68. When it sunk outside Key Largo and became an artificial reef in 1985 it was the oldest US military vessel in use.
Learn more about the USCGC online.