Honu is the Hawaiian word for green sea turtle. From the balcony of a Maui apartment, we spent hours watching up to four turtles eat algae from submerged rocks close to shore, seeing if we could spot them and waiting for them to surface and show themselves. Similar to what you do on a safari, except in Hawaii. Watching wildlife is like a treasure hunt — you don’t know if you’ll find what you’re looking for, but you can increase your chances by knowing what to look for (understanding the animal’s behavior, in the case of wildlife).
Turtles breathe air. They take only a second or two to stick their head above water, exhale, and inhale. Then they swim for a few minutes until they need another breathe. They slowly rise to the surface before taking a breath.
The photo below shows the serrated lower jaw, where the sun shines into the turtle’s mouth.
The photos were taken with an APS-C camera and a telephoto lens at 400 mm, so the effective focal length is 640 mm. Since the turtle surfaces for only a second or two, you have to focus and set the exposure before the turtle sticks its head up. Time of day is important. There’s more light in the middle of the day, except that sunlight reflecting off the water surface produces glare. I brought a circular polarizing filter to reduce the glare off the water, but I did something stupid and broke the filter before I could use it.
While snorkeling at the Black Rock at Kaanapali, a large turtle with a 3′ long shell swam under us effortlessly. We tried to follow but couldn’t keep up with the turtle for long.