On the morning of the 5th May, boat Meeru 17 and its divers were on their way to Lankan Manta Point.
Half an hour into the journey, a group of curious pilot whales could be seen moving slowly through the waves in the opposite direction. As the boat drifted over the gentle waves towards them, the whales slowed down and came to the side of the boat.
These majestic creatures treated the divers to a display of twists and turns, exposing swollen bellies. Some individuals vertically lifted their bulbous-shaped heads out of the water, known as spy-hopping, to check out the onlookers, before breathing in joy and plunging again to the depths of the ocean.
The same pod was seen again two days later moving further north of the atoll. These nomadic creatures navigate their way through the ocean by using echolocation. They send out sounds into the environment which bounce off nearby objects, returning information about the objects by measuring the time it takes for the sound waves to return. This enables the whales to find their way and hunt for food.
These highly social animals can be seen travelling in pods of ten to several hundred, and are rarely seen travelling alone, with both males and females remaining in their mother’s pod their whole lives. They move together, dependent on one another as a cohesive whole.
It is believed that their strong social bonds contribute to mass stranding events around the world as they follow their leading ‘pilot’ into shallow waters. Although this behavior is common, it is something us humans are still not able to understand.
On the 4th May 2018, an Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) was found entangled in bamboo and monofilament fishing net, and seemed to be in very poor condition. Our dive master Ramiz Bhuiyan and a guest diver spotted the turtle from the boat as they were making their way back to the island of Meeru.
The turtle appeared to be trapped inside the discarded fishing equipment, which are often referred to as “ghost nets”. Entanglement in marine debris can cause severe injuries such as loss of limbs, and it can also cause turtles to drown or reduce their ability to swim away from predators. Ramiz knew he had to act quickly.
He wasted no time and jumped into the water, swimming over to the distressed turtle. Luckily the turtle’s head was not trapped and it was still able to lift it out of the water to breathe. Ramiz took hold of the net and the turtle, making sure to support its body, he hastily swam back to the boat.
The boat crew and divers on the boat could see this was a serious situation and hastily moved to the side of the boat, where they helped lift the turtle carefully out of the water and onto the boat.
Once on the boat, they could assess the turtle’s injuries. There seemed to be no lacerations and it appeared to still have some strength in its body. The team worked quickly, turning the turtle onto its back, allowing them to cut away at the net, releasing its flippers.
Once all the net had been removed, they decided that the turtle was strong enough to be released straight away. The rescue team watched happily as Ramiz placed the turtle back in the ocean, smiling as the turtle dived under the waves and swam away to freedom.
Hoping to see you all for this amazing encounters under or above the water 🙂
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Euro-Divers Meeru Team