These beautiful animals are Hawksbill Sea Turtles, one of the most critically endangered of all the sea turtles. Once hunted to near extinction, they were sought after for their beautiful shells to make hair brushes and similar ornaments. They were also hunted for meat and their eggs were taken as a source of food.
But, conservation efforts and stricter laws have made hunting them much less common and the populations have started to recover. They still have a long way to go, but the turtles are being seen in greater numbers now than they were in the 1950s and 1960s.
For this scuba diver, it was a wonderful experience to be approached by one of these beautiful and gentle animals as it looked over the reef for sea sponges to eat. But that delight turned to disbelief as he realized that there was a second turtle approaching as well. For more than ten minutes, he accompanied the two turtles as they glided graceful over the reef, seemingly enjoying the company of each other, an also, the company of their new human friend.
An underwater experience such as this is simply magical. Meeting two Hawksbills at once made for a dive that this scuba enthusiast will not soon forget.