Tenerife Turtles – Small Expectations, Great Rewards
It’s no great secret that for UK based divers and underwater photographers who want truly out of this world wildlife diving, you usually have to dig deep in your pocket and be prepared for a long journey with great expectations. But what about photographing exotic wildlife in warm seas, a flight no more than 5 hours away and a trip thats kind to your bank balance?
Well this is the point you’d normally expect me to say get down to The Red Sea. Well not this time, this time I’m going to point you in the direction of a small Volcanic Island in the Atlantic Ocean that is part of Spain.
Tenerife is a holiday destination popular with UK families and groups looking for a relatively inexpensive holiday with guaranteed beautiful sunny weather. One of the main reasons I found myself travelling here with my family in the Summer 2017.
I’ve recently had my first child towards the end of 2016 and it was time to organise a family holiday but with a little diving fun for daddy. ;). Tenerife was the destination of choice and early August was the time. The lure of maybe being able to get close shots of Turtles being a deciding factor. Also if I could introduce family members to the world I love and get them snorkelling with some exotic marine animals such as Turtles it would be another bonus.
I’d heard stories and saw photos of Green Sea Turtles in Tenerife but I wasn’t sure how much of a guarantee it was I would actually get the same opportunities. I done some research and got in touch with a Tenerife based photographer by the name of Montse Grillo. She has some truly stunning shots of Turtles around Tenerife and I knew she would be able to help. Although Montse doesn’t speak much English I am grateful for the time she took to Google translate my message and point me in the direction of the dive shop: Club de Buceo Rincon de Arona.
Javier was the owner/dive guide and promised me Turtles as well as some big rays. He is a keen underwater photographer himself, so knows exactly what I am looking for when it comes to getting eye catching photos. I started the day with a macro dive seeking out the abundance of eels that call the volcanic rocks home. Then in the afternoon it was time to find some Turtles. The dive site was a short boat ride of no more than 5 minutes from the marina at Los Cristianos and set under the back drop of dramatic volcanic cliffs along the Southwest side of the Island. The first turtle was spotted at the surface before anchor was even dropped, always a good sign that this is going to be a good dive.
It was only a shallow dive site of around 13 metres giving us ample water time to get plenty of photos. I don’t know the full story of the turtles in the area but I had read they are rescue turtles that are used to human interaction and stick around for small handouts of leftover squid from the fishermen at the harbour.
The turtles were certainly bold and curious, which as underwater photographers we know is great for us. “When you think you’re close, then get closer” is the general rule of thumb. There was no such worry here as I found myself backing up on numerous occasions just to get the turtles in the frame.
I done 2 dives with the turtles and rays during my holiday and both dives were equally as fun and manic as each other. An abundance of fish making way as the Bull Rays worked there way through. Stingrays of different sizes would also make an appearance but the Turtles were the real stars.
The second dive saw the introduction of a third smaller turtle. There is normally only 2 turtles regularly at the dive site but my guide said out of all the photographers that come with him I am probably the only one to get 3 turtles in the frame. I only managed the one decent shot of all 3 as I found myself struggling to back up enough to get them all in. It certainly made the dive extra exciting.
In conclusion: I wasn’t expecting much for my time underwater in Tenerife and whether I’d get any decent photos. It certainly excelled my expectations and is a worthwhile dive trip to book for a more cost friendly and relatively close holiday from the UK. Although I only got 4 dives in I was able to get many many photos that were well worth keeping due to the abundance of photo opportunities. I was also able to introduce 5 members of my family to the joys of the ocean and get them snorkelling with turtles for the very first time. It means the world to me to share my passion with those closest to me and see how much they enjoyed the experience.