Sometimes it doesn’t take much to step out of our everyday lives and into an entirely different world- all it takes is a little exploration and sense of adventure. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to cost anything. For example, 100 yards offshore in Deerfield Beach and you can swim with ancient marine reptiles, sea turtles. No lines, no entrance fees, and no crowds.
Deerfield Beach is a popular snorkel and dive spot because the reef is so close to shore. However, just before you reach the reef there is a seemingly uninteresting bottom type made up mostly algae. This is exactly why the turtles are here.
Around the world there are 7 different sea turtle species. These are green sea turtles, so named because the fat under their shells is actually green. Green sea turtles are herbivorous and they come here eat the algae. While adult female sea turtles use the beach for nesting, the ones in the algae beds are juveniles. Just little guys.
Yet, it’s not like there are signs posted or instructions on how to get here. In fact, I discovered this population of sea turtles accidently. My friends and I would come to snorkel the reef, generally looking for fish and corals. While swimming back into shore we would always see the turtles in the shallow water. A few more trips and we realized they are pretty much always here in the algae beds eating- go figure. Usually, when you find one you find at least 5 or 6 more.
Unfortunately, most sea turtles are listed as endangered or threatened, due to threats from human activity, such as beach development, bycatch from fishing, and illegal black-market trade in eggs and meat.
After being in the water for hours, eventually I just stopped to watch and observe them rather than focus on taking photos. I jealously watched as they glided through the water effortlessly, obviously built for the aquatic environment . Meanwhile, there I was getting tossed around awkwardly in the waves, surfacing every minute for a breath. It is humbling to swim with a species that has existed for over 65 million years.