By Alex Jones
HILARIOUS photos show a day under the sea is not dissimilar to a regular night on the tiles.
Striking shots of sea turtles, clown fish, clams and a chunky Napoleon Maori Wrasse in the Great Barrier Reef are reminiscent of a night out in any club across the UK – with fights, hugs, love-ins, and group posing all on display.
One shot captures a green turtle ‘high-fiving’ his mate while grinning for the camera; another shows the huge Wrasse getting a comforting pat on the shoulder from a concerned fellow sea dweller, and another snap shows a turtle seemingly land a right-fin hook on his shell-shocked acquaintance.
More remarkable photos show two turtles eagerly scoffing a shared treat and another shows a formation of reptiles in a clustered group shot.
Although entertaining, photographer and children’s book author Troy Mayne’s photos have a serious message behind them.
“My motto has always been ‘Let the sea live!’,” explained 46-year-old Australian Troy Mayne.
“Having travelled the world diving, and now living in the Philippines, I have seen the gradual dying of the ocean of 30 odd years. It’s real, it is happening, and we have to do something about it now.
“I feel so privileged to have had the interaction and friendship that I had with these wild animals. They truly are incredible animals.
“It shows that we can all live in harmony with animals, everywhere, even with these wild animals, because I show them love and respect. They completely trust me. Sadly, this is not the case everywhere, and animals have much to fear from people.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be associated with Wally and the turtles. To have had the experience and encounters that I have with these animals is very special to me.”
Troy spent five years regularly diving with his underwater friends at the Great Barrier Reef, where he worked as a photographer for tourist boats. He would frequently spend over 24 hours a week underwater – occasionally sleeping on the pontoons over the reef to allow him extra time in the sea. His diligence allowed him to build a remarkable rapport with the animals he strives to protect. He estimates he has completed over 12,000 dives.
“I have been diving for nearly 30 years. I had an immediate love and passion for the Sea,” added Troy, who has played an active role in marine conservation across the southern hemisphere.
“I grew up near the ocean and would always be down the beach swimming, and I grew up eating sea food. I stopped eating seafood the day of my first Scuba Dive on the Great Barrier Reef, after all, fish are friends not food it turns out!
“What you are seeing is real un-manipulated images of my underwater friends. The turtles featured in the photos are Shelley and Casey. They are Green Turtles. Wally the big green guy is a Napoleon Maori Wrasse.
“Turtles are by nature very solitary animals, however after a few months I had groups of turtles following me regularly – they know I was good for food! I fed them the algae that they naturally eat on the reef which I picked very carefully as to not disturb anything.
“Despite popular perception about turtles they really are quite smart. They always had their heads in my pocket trying to get some food out, when I wasn’t looking. If I do not pay them attention and feed them, they gave me a little nip to let me know they were waiting. I have been bitten on my bottom many times with a little ‘hurry up’ nip!”
Working carefully with the animals Troy – who has a series of children’s books out based on Shelly, Casey and Wally’s underwater antics – was able to ensure that the friendly sea creatures never became reliant on him for food.
“Most days, different turtles would show up – sometimes I would not see some for weeks, then they just turn up again,” he added.
“I like to think that the interactions I had with the marine life were positive. The guests on the tourist boat that would visit each day would get to see the Turtles up close and be educated about them. Seeing how beautiful they are would hopefully inspire awareness about the plight of our oceans.
“It sounds silly I know, and many people look at me in disbelief when I talked about my friends in the ocean. Most people think that marine animals are just food. But they have personalities, just like dogs. They are remarkable.”
As the 46-year-old photographer was able to spend so much time in the water, he was eventually able to ‘communicate’ with some of his aquatic acquaintances.
“All of the images are totally genuine, no photoshop at all,” Troy continued.
“Some of the images are fortunate accidents, whilst most are painstakingly set up over, days, weeks, or even years. The images have been achieved mainly through mutual respect. Wally, the fish, is extremely smart and I would communicate with him using hand signals. Although it got to a point when he just seemed to know what I wanted and do it without communication – amazingly intelligent.
“To start with I had to learn how to allow the animals to be photographed. It took a while to learn how to adapt what I’d been taught. Wally was very hard-headed too and he controlled the situations, if he was not in the mood, it didn’t happen. We all got on by the end though. As you can see in the videos, wherever I went, so did my friends. I couldn’t get away if I wanted to!”