Dean Owen

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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An Interview with a Turtle

An Interview with a Turtle

She collapsed on the bed, exhausted from the morning dive. For someone who literally could not swim a few weeks earlier, I was pretty damn impressed to have gotten her diving in open waters.

“You take it easy babe, we can do Manta Point tomorrow. I’m just going to head out to the house reef for a bit”

I got my kit and hopped out of our beachfront cottage and into the water. Fins, goggles and snorkel on, I headed out to the drop off point. There were sharks darting here and there. Harmless reef sharks. I’d chased a Black Tip for ten minutes yesterday, never got closer than a few meters.

I could feel the water turn cold as I approached the drop off. An Eagle Ray appeared from the depths. I noticed the crooked tail and thought to myself “Hello my friend”. 

I would not pursue today.

I held position near the drop off. This was my favourite place in the whole world, snorkeling around the picture perfect Vabbinfaru, an island with one of the best house reefs in the Indian Ocean.

An Interview with a Turtle

I floated above the precipice like a man on a cliff, eyes glued to the depths. It was a busy scene from Tokyo station below with all manner of marine life going about their daily chores.

And suddenly from the depths she emerged, pausing at the cliff face to take a nibble of coral. I held my breath and dived down to meet her at 5 meters. I checked her tag. She was indeed the same girl I’d met a year earlier. I kid myself that she came to meet me, that she recognized me, that she remembered me. She headed for the surface to take a gulp of air, and I followed. Then we headed for the shallows and strolled the garden together, as if hand in hand. In much the same way as our last meeting, she would lead, and I would follow. Then when I turned to head toward home, she would follow back. For one whole hour we were inseparable, just like the year before. In that hour we talked much.

She was grateful for this sanctuary, and the support of the Banyan Tree Marine Lab Green Turtle program. She says that she has more friends these days, and the seas around Vabbinfaru are literally teaming with tuppies (her word for baby turtles). She said that 4 of her adult friends recently had sat navs glued to their shells. They said they don’t mind, as they know it is for a good cause, and actually the extra weight keeps them healthier! She remembered me from the year before, but said that I put on weight. After about an hour swimming, I told her I better be getting back, but would definitely come back to see her before I go.

I waddled onto the beach with my large fins, then up to our hut. My girl was lying on the four poster bed in deep sleep. I felt kind of guilty to have spent the last hour with another girl. I’ll just show her the videos I took, she’d understand…


If you ever come across a marine turtle, please do not hound it. Although they can hold their breath for a couple of hours, under stressful circumstances they have been known to dive deep, run out of air, and drown. Keep your distance.

Green Turtles are endangered and facing rapidly declining populations. Main threats are habitat loss and degradation, wildlife trade of their precious shells, climate change, collection of eggs and meat for consumption, coral bleaching, and pollution.

For those that are interested, you can adopt a Sea Turtle here, or send a Turtle to Rehab here.

An Interview with a Turtle

If you enjoyed this article and by chance want more, do read:

The Day I Shot a Tiger

Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment

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Dean Owen

5 years ago #22

Thank you Lisa, I do not worry so much about Sea Turtles now as we have seen a huge recovery, but it is fragile. Another El Nino could cause coral bleaching once again from the Maldives to the Great Barrier Reef, and that would be, once again disastrous for the Green Sea Turtle. If you enjoyed this one, when you have time, do read the Tiger one!

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #21

What a great buzz Dean Owen!! A love story with your 'girl' and your sea gal!! You can take something serious and make it so amazing by your story telling. Sea turtles are a protected species in the Outer Banks of North Carolina too. I love watching videos when their hatched eggs break open and baby turtles need to move quickly to get out to sea before they are eaten by predators. Today, so many are helping them to get to sea so they aren't on the endangered species list.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #20

Thanks Mamen, these two posts are quite special to me and I hope the beginning of a series on endangered species.

Mamen 🐝 Delgado

5 years ago #19

Woow Dean Owen, love it love it, all of it!!! I feel really touched by your story with your girlfriend, one year later. "She" is very very pretty!! Love the videos, the story, the links to WWF, love you my dear friend... This buzz is very emotional for me... 💖 Thanks...

Dean Owen

5 years ago #18

It is great to see such passion as can be seen by the popularity of the reality TV series Whale Wars. Some may not agree with the radical tactics employed by Captain Paul Watson and his team, but something needed to be done to protect our precious marine ecosystem, and I, for one, rally behind Sea Shepherd even in their fight against my native Japan. Call me a tree hugger if you will, but I want my children, and my childrens children, to live in a world where humpback whales, orangutans, sea turtles, Bengal tigers are not a history lesson on how we, as a species, have failed. The BP Deep Water Horizon spill was an epic environmental disaster (blame the Brits), but bigger picture, it starts with educating the young. Much appreciated

Laurent Boscherini

5 years ago #17

Thank you Dean Owen ! Yes I used to take two days off, when I am travelling for business ande possible. My Best spot is in Belize, unfortunately not often as I want. ;)

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #16

Certainly there are quite a few beaches in Oz, Dean-san, where turtles come to lay eggs on their annual treck ashore, but not close too Brisbane, as far as I am aware. Perhaps the sharks or the crocks ate them? 🐢

Dean Owen

5 years ago #15

You have sea turtles on your doorstep don't you Ken Boddie? Mon Repos, Ningaloo Reef, Bare Sand Island, and of course the Great Barrier Reef....

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #14

So, Dean-san, tampering with a turtle in tepid temperatures? Sounds terribly tempting. 🤔

Dean Owen

5 years ago #13

It is funny you mention the Costa Rican Sea Turtles. I have been considering the volunteer program if I can squeeze in some time. Thanks for reading Elena Tchijov, glad you enjoyed it.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #12

Ohh yes, the Puffer fish at night, when the instructor shines his torch into the body like an Olympic flame. Horrific! As you know, I have yet to see the whalesharks so please don't mention them! :)

Dean Owen

5 years ago #11

That is a great rule Catalina Serrano, but often ignored, especially when group of divers encounter a Napoleon fish!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #10

You know in all my time in social media, that was the first time I have actually laughed out loud! black Jeep lol. funny....

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #9

Ken Boddie. But my best joke (IMO) came out this morning.... and you being a 'car' person might appreciate this. My wife's sister is visiting. They drive a white Ford Expedition. My wife's car is a white Ford Edge. I drive a very dark Jeep Cherokee. My brother in law looked out at the driveway and declared that it seemed like everyone drove a white Ford, to which I replied "Not me!" (wait for it...) "I'm the black Jeep of the family!" Cue muted trumpet... Wah, Wah, wahhhhhh.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #8

Well I do hope you get the chance to visit and dive the Maldives, especially during Manta season. Glad you enjoyed the story Aaron Skogen.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #7

Definitely one of your better jokes Kevin Pashuk?

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #6

I truly enjoyed your story (and the environmental perspective about respecting our interaction with wildlife) Dean Owen. I must have put something besides coffee in my coffee this morning since while reading about your relationship with this particular reptile, I couldn't help but wonder if... as you got to know her better... she started coming out of her shell. (Sorry)

Dean Owen

5 years ago #5

Actually @Froilian Perez, I have seen that same turtle on three separate visits and have gotten to know a few others. They always return to the same beach to lay their eggs. Glad you enjoyed the story and thanks for the comment!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #4

#3 Thanks Don-san, Michael-san. Glad you enjoyed it.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #3

Thanks Laurent. Yes the Maldives. The videos are pretty bad sorry, cheap equipment, and it is much easier to take videos when scuba diving than snorkelling. I am sure with your time in Asia, you did a lot of diving?

don kerr

5 years ago #2

Felt like I was right there Dean Owen another good one.

Laurent Boscherini

5 years ago #1

Thank you Dean Owen for sharing your beautiful story and educational approach. I really envoy the marine Flora and Fauna diversity of.. the Maldives ? Very beautiful videos.

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