Paradise this Way

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Washed by the soft warm waves of the Caribbean, a sea grass meadow beckons in the shallow blue waters off Barbados. Here the Green Sea Turtles wait to welcome you to their paradise beneath the tropical sea.

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Gliding with ease through this watery world, their long arms paddle in mesmerising slow motion, scooping the salty water into swirling trails drifting away behind them. So relaxed, that one look into that huge black eye releases all tension, drawing you deep into the perfect present where your body is soothed by the warm motion of the waves and currents beneath the glittering surface.

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You might find your breathing slows down into slow deep waves, and your muscles relax into the salty support of the warm sea. You might even begin to imagine that you could dive down towards the soft white sand on the ocean bed, and walk among the swaying grass and coral, among herds of silver fish. Swimming beside a green turtle may leave you convinced that becoming a mermaid would be an awfully big adventure, and certain route to paradise.

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As the turtles get used to your presence, they often become more relaxed, and might swim up underneath your belly, gliding smoothly over your soft skin. They seemed curious, looking at us as with what seemed like slight bemusement, as we moved among them with our clumsy skinny four limbs. They could turn in a tight circle with one sweep of a flipper, while we flapped and kicked to follow like toddlers learning to walk.

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Despite their bulk, they drift and fly, gliding like eagles through the blue waters of this heaven on earth. All around fish gathered and followed, like courtiers seeking an audience with the ancient oracle of the sea. A pair of love struck puffer fish, 50 cm long, flirted and kissed beneath the shadow of the turtles shells. Peace was the over arching emotion sweeping through me as I swam among the turtles in their own private paradise.

All turtles are protected in the waters around Barbados. The ones we swam with were adults who graze here when they are not breeding. Turtles, like salmon return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs, but graze often thousands of miles away. We stayed on a beach where hawksbill turtles come home to lay their eggs, and all the beach front hotels have turtle friendly policies. Night time lights towards the beach are kept to a minimum, and lines of native vegetation are left between the buildings and the beach. No umbrellas are plunged into the soft white sand, incase a hidden nest of eggs lies beneath, and the sea in front of nesting beaches is marked off to keep boats and jet skis out.
I was left grinning, and am still in awe of these elegant creatures who have been on earth so long they have seen the dinosaurs come and go.

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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54 Responses to Paradise this Way

  1. tree girl says:

    Wow! These photos are so beautiful, they look like paintings.

  2. Leya says:

    This sounds like a dream – Seonaid! How lucky you are!

  3. restlessjo says:

    Wow! You’re in Bardados! How fantastic, Seonaid, and what beautiful images. No wonder you’re grinning. πŸ™‚

    • It really is fantastic Jo, such a beautiful island filled with wonderful wildlife and nature….and some of the happiest most laid back people I have ever met…..but I suppose living in paradise will do that to you πŸ™‚

  4. Robin says:

    Breathtaking images! I want to dive in the water and become a mermaid too. The turtles are so beautiful, and your whole post radiates peace and warmth. Thank you for that. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Robin, the pictures turned out surprisingly well for my first attempts at underwater photography! If you dive in we can become mermaids together…..swimming in the utterly relaxing warm blue sea πŸ™‚

  5. Graceful photographs, Seonaid. They glide effortlessly through the water, curious and gentle. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and the background story.

  6. Nikki says:

    WOW. I have never really been interested in trying underwater photography because I thought the product might now be worth the effort. BUT WOW. These are amazing. Good for you for taking the opportunity to learn to do something so fun!

    • I wasn’t sure if my efforts would be worthwhile either, but thought it might be worth trying. We spent so much time in the water that it was definitely worthwhile….it takes lovely on the surface shots too πŸ™‚

  7. Sharon K. says:

    I saw this post the other day Seonaid and had to come back and view it again.

    These turtles are fantastic. They look like magical creatures in an oil pastel—the browns and creams in that gorgeous turquoise sea. What an experience to swim along with them for a while.

    As always, your lyrical narrative is as lovely as your images.

    I’ve never been to Barbados nor swam with turtles, but just knowing they exist makes me happy.

    Thank you. πŸ™‚
    x

    • Thanks for taking the time to come back to this post Sharon. They do feel rather magical as you swim beside them. To begin with it didn’t feel real…..but those big emotion filled eyes do something amazing….
      I’m feeling happy just thinking about them now, and thinking of you feeling happy just knowing about them πŸ™‚

  8. Those are fantastic underwater shots. Seonaid. And what grace to be swimming among these creatures and sharing a bit of their energy. Looking forward to more stories about your time in Barbados.

    • Swimming with them was so beautiful, a real gift, and they are surprisingly elegant in the water. We had so many watery adventures, both above and below the waves, which has been very therapeutic πŸ™‚

  9. LB says:

    Absolutely incredible Seonaid! Your photos are beautiful and I felt at peace just reading your words. So very happy the got to experience this!

  10. pommepal says:

    Such clear and beautiful photos and the water is such a sublime turquoise that is the perfect backdrop to these magnificent creatures.

  11. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Now that was a truly amazing experience!

  12. My first question was going to be ‘How did you capture these,’ but I see from other comments that you had a Lumix which could be taken in the water. Amazing. These images were worth waiting for. Your words express clearly the joy of having been able to commune with these animals which, you pointed out, have been here a long, long, time. Thanks Seonaid. What’s next? D

    • David I’m delighted you enjoyed the turtle shots….as for what comes next…..keep watching this space, and I might just have something interesting to follow πŸ™‚
      The turtles though, were the highlight of our trip…..

  13. I simply love the first photo, it looks as if the turtle is raising his hand. Beautiful compositions.

  14. How amazing they are, Seonaid. Lucky you to have been able to interact with these fabulous creatures. Your photos are really good. That first one looks like he’s waving to me. πŸ™‚

    • It was a real treat, and they feel like such gentle creatures as you swim beside them. The photos were my first attempt at underwater photography….it’s challenging as everything is moving even me…so I was delighted with the results.
      We thought that turtle in the first shot looked like he was waving us through to paradise πŸ™‚

  15. poppytump says:

    *Sigh just wonderful Seonaid πŸ™‚ I hear all you are saying here .
    Your photos are fantastic ! BB had a Lumix underwater camera too a couple of years ago but am afraid his experience with his was not so great :-/ so now has a snorkel mask with an integral camera which although not so high tech has produced some good shots .

    • It was a very beautiful way to spend a few hours Poppy….and of course I’m so hooked we went back again πŸ™‚ They are very beautiful creatures.

      Snorkel mask with integral camera sounds pretty high tech….
      I’m loving my Lumix, but you have to be so very careful opening the camera door, whether for battery recharge or USB connection to download. I was certain it wouldn’t work….but hey I caught some shots which as Tina says are keepers!

      It’s so funny I’ve told my Mum about our underwater adventures for years, but now with images to show she gets it!! Loving underwater photography πŸ™‚

      • poppytump says:

        Keepers indeed Seonaid ! An experience never to be forgotten .. I’m no great swimmer but couldn’t resist them either . Beautiful creatures .

      • I love being on the water Poppy, and we both used to scuba dive so feel very at home in the sea….but who could resist the chance to swim with these peaceful and beautiful creatures….it was much more relaxing than some of our other previous underwater encounters!

  16. twoscamps says:

    What an incredible experience! Your photos capture some of the magic of these beautiful creatures….

    • It really was a magical experience…..we once caught a glimpse of a sea turtle….many years ago on our honeymoon…..so to see one again, and in a group, well it was perfect. I was so soothed by their presence πŸ™‚

  17. Katalina4 says:

    Oh so so gorgeous!!! I LOVE turtles, and these photos and the words are just sublime….

  18. Amy says:

    Beautiful turtle captures! glad to know that they are under protections. Thank you for the post!

  19. Tina Schell says:

    Wow Seonaid, these photos are incredible–what did you use to shoot them? You were so close, they must be accustomed to people?? The color is just perfect. And your text as always fits perfectly to the shots, bringing us along with you on your adventure. Beautifully done!

    • Thanks Tina, I was using a new little toy….a Lumix underwater camera….and I had great fun playing with it. Despite the relatively low vis the pictures came out fairly well. It’s so different from shooting in the air though, and because everything including you is moving all the time, it’s hard to focus and frame….lots of fun practising though!

  20. The intricate designs and color on their shells are amazingly beautiful. I went to a Master Gardener class on turtles a couple of weeks ago – fascinating creatures. I never realized how much space they needed to survive, how many eggs they laid, but that they didn’t tend their young. Nature – nothing like it.

    • That’s so true Judy, there’s nothing as amazing as nature herself πŸ™‚
      They’ve been around since before the dinosaurs so although they don’t care for their young, they must have been doing something right!! It reminded me of the salmon…..

  21. jenny says:

    Beautiful post, beautiful creatures, beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing. :o)

    • It really was beautiful in so many ways Jenny, I was left grinning, and it will stay with me for a long time. Their eyes had such intelligence πŸ™‚

      • jenny says:

        Sea turtles are such amazing creatures. I absolutely love watching them underwater. It is an incredible experience. And yes, it stays with you forever, no matter how many you see. :o)

  22. What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing.

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