Filming green turtles
Green turtles eat 2kg of seagrass a day, so, in theory at least, it should be simple to film them doing it. The task was more difficult than expected – as it turns out these turtles are camera shy. Perhaps because our chosen location was a bustle of yachts, catamarans, helicopters and hundreds of blue lycra-clad tourists experiencing their first ever dive on the Barrier Reef.
We filmed on Green Island, a resort and research station, so named because of its surrounding beds of lush seagrass. To find the best filming spot we adopted a technique called ‘manta towing’; which involves covering yourself in a ridiculous looking jellyfish-proof suit and holding onto a rope tied to a boat as it pulls through the water at speed like an underwater Superman. It sounds fun, and it’s a great way to spot turtles, but with the summer water temperature soaring and bringing in the notorious Aussie stingers, it’s also a great way to get peppered with painful red welts.
Eventually, we found an area of seagrass that was well ‘mown’ with a few young green turtles, just a few hundred metres from the main resort with its mass of masks, snorkels and fins. The next challenge was to film them…as any photographer knows - point a lens at an animal and it stops behaving! Frustratingly, every time we got close with our scuba gear they would swim away.
We realized that the turtles in this spot were not used to our noisy scuba gear so decided to film while holding our breath. Eventually, patience paid off and we were able to capture these intimate moments as an individual turtle trimmed down his little garden. This behaviour, where the turtle deliberately and selectively tends little plots of grass was previously undocumented in Australian waters, providing a wonderful opportunity and privilege to film another insight into these iconic reef animals’ lives.
Image: Camerawoman Ellen Husain filming a filming a green turtle. Copyright: Tara Artner
- Series Producer
- James Brickell
- Monty Halls
- Executive Producer
- Neil Nightingale
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