Salt Dome Trip with Van Jones & Crew on August 15, 2018© Photos Posted by Mark Primo Miller © Hi-Res Source
This is the topside video of our trip out to hunt for Red Snapper & Amberjack. We had a hard time landing the Amberjack as they kept breaking us off and then we couldn't seem to get more live bait. But the Red Snapper were no problem after we moved back to shallower waters. I made a couple dives but struggled with my Speargun "Black Betty". Very unusual for me. I also had a great Turtle Encounter but got none of it on video. Below is my written account of it that I posted on Facebook. This trip encompassed 192 miles, 102 gallons of fuel, and 14.5 hours.
#TurtleLove Well, I did not get video or pictures so I guess it did not happen, but what an incredible encounter. I just have to write this down to preserve the memory. All my friends know how I love to interact with the underwater wildlife so all you tree hugging haters can stop right here and leave. This whole trip was plagued by bad luck making me think that someone smuggled bananas onboard, but Derik Conerly insists that he somehow has a curse this year. Whatever it was, I shot 5 fish and only landed the smallest and the last one swam off with my shaft. This never happens with me and Black Betty. Not to mention all the fish we lost fishing and then this mishap with my GoPro. I had just ended a 17 minute dive on Platform MP289C near the Salt Dome and was handing my useless speargun (Black Betty) up to the boat. I had just turned off my GoPro when Derik asked if I saw the Sea Turtle. I replied no and he said to look behind the boat underwater and when I did, I saw a huge loggerhead sea turtle of perhaps 500 pounds. I quickly headed over to her turning on my GoPro back on. GoPro has an annoying feature of implementing a time delay on power switching, I guess to make sure you intended to turn the unit back on. The last thing on my footage was me looking at the front to make sure it was running. It was running, but turned off just a few seconds later. So what happened next was not caught on camera. The turtles in our area are not like those on the East Coast or other places, they are pretty timid. Usually they scoot off as soon as they see you. This started out with the same MO as the beautiful turtle took a gulp of air and then quickly descended swimming away from me. I pursued her to get what video I could and just about the time I was about to give up, she turned her head to look at me, and then made an abrupt turn and charged straight at me at full speed. I was holding the non-recording GoPro to make sure it was aimed at her and then started wondering if this was about to be an attack waiting for her huge mouth to open. Her mouth never opened and she just rammed into me as if love was in the air. We danced a while as I rubbed algae off her huge shell which she seemed to like a lot. Then she swam towards the platform as if she wanted me to follow but I could not keep up and diverted toward the boat. As I approached the boat, a large Shark began to charge me and I was concentrating on him and his intentions, and making sure the non-recording GoPro was getting the action, when all of a sudden I was startled by the turtle swimming out from underneath me within inches of my chest and she charged the Shark away. She then turned around and gave me some more affection. It was by far the best Turtle experience of my long diving career. While I don't have the video footage for this memory, hopefully this write-up will stir my memories as I grow old. #TurtleLove