The Dinosaur

Just before I went to sleep, Jack came up and said, ‘Don’t freak out, but maybe we should leave on Tuesday.’

I stared at him. That idea was going to colour my dreams. But before that, I have to go back. To the dinosaur.

It is a naughty trick Bonaire is playing on us. Every week for our Saturday dive, we are having the best dives ever. First it was the shark dive two weeks ago with Bas. Crunching through that surf at Baby Beach was a step into adventure. We went out of our comfort zone for this dive thanks to Bas – and were rewarded by seeing the golden, curious reef shark.

Then, the next week – last weekend, we had the amazing dolphin encounter. At Frank’s site, a maternal pod of bottlenoses soared above us in the opposite direction while we were diving. Did not expect that. Just hearing their click, whistle, squeak language reverberating through us for minutes before was crazy enough. To see them glide over and eyeball us was surreal. And of course we didn’t have our camera.

We have started watching the weather all the time. Feeling it on our faces, listening to it whistle through our rigging. Lo and behold, we agree with the forecasting models. It is windy. And so our leaving date keeps inching back.

We still have a couple more weeks to find a window before the hurricane season officially kicks in. Only the quiet window we hoped was coming looks now like it did come – and go. That was the weekend we went shark diving. We could only get out because the wind died. Aha. Well, we did go shark diving.

What to do now? Well, it was Saturday.. We brought our friend, Tanner on SV Dorothy Rose to Frank’s dive site. We went down and did our usual one-way drift dive. Saw the same, small hawksbill turtle we saw last weekend in the same place. There were at least two green turtles up in the shallows too. No click, whistle, squeak this week though. No problem, I thought. I mean, we weren’t greedy to see new stuff every week.

Jack pointed excitedly into the distance. Approaching us seemed to be a slow-moving dinosaur. Officially it was a turtle. It was the largest sea turtle we had ever seen underwater. Its head was particularly huge – small human sized. Eyes covering half of it, black and protruding.

Jack immediately approached it with GoPro on a stick. The turtle looked at him and didn’t flinch. Uh-oh I thought. I might not like that either. It gave Jack a rather judgy look, opened its huge beak and took an inquisitive bite at the screen.

The rest of us hung in the water, agog. My mind clicked in. This was a loggerhead turtle, the second largest sea turtle, after the even-more dinosaur-ic leatherback. Loggerhead turtles live throughout the largest global range for sea turtles, tolerating low-water temperatures and eating most opportunistically. Jellyfish, crustaceans, shellfish, fish if it can. This was a true pelagic species, travelling across oceans. Indeed, the white barnacles covering its shell now were testament to its oceanic status.

I wasn’t sure if it would start taking bites out of Jack too. That would be something. In that case, I could probably do with holding (and operating) the camera. It didn’t though. It slowly carried on, its huge eyes pointing into the distance. I mean, if this amazing, ancient creature crosses oceans, then what are we waiting for?

Maybe a little less wind..

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