Turtle on Turtle Reef


A Green Turtle swims over coral in the shallow of Turtle Reef in Talbot Bay on the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. (Annabelle Sandes/© Annabelle Sandes | Kimberley Media) IN 2007 after much planning, fellow photographer Richard Costin and I embarked on a three month expedition up the Kimberley coast to photograph whales and other marine life in Camden Sound.  Wending our way down the coast towards Derby at the end of the trip, we moored our houseboat on a sandbank in Talbot Bay, near Turtle Reef, to co-incide with the some of the lowest tides of the year.

We’d planned our trip carefully around the early morning low tide  to photograph the corals and other marine life which were revealed in the intertidal zones. Turtle Reef is a massive algal platform in Talbot Bay, near the Horizontal Waterfalls, covering over 25km2.  Covered in hard and soft corals, feather stars, gorgonian fans and numerous other marine organisms, the Reef joins Molema Island with the mainland.

We departed the houseboat in the dinghy at 3am on a falling tide to avoid being stuck on the sandbank, and armed with a thermos of coffee, ate breakfast floating around Talbot Bay in the dark, waiting for the reef to emerge at 5am.  As the tide receded, the houseboat settled neatly on a sandbank nearby.

The prevailing winds in the Kimberley’s dry season are easterlies in the morning, creating waves and ripples on the water surface making photography difficult.  On this particular occasion however, at 8.22 am with a rising tide, the winds were light and the sea surface was relatively flat and calm as the Green Turtle foraged in the shallows. Richard was photographing around the edge of a deep blue hole in the middle of the reef, and beckoned me over to see the turtle swimming over the corals. The image was a finalist in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in 2009.

Canon 5D
ISO 200
Focal length: 200mm
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