Local fisherman establishes trust on a rare encounter with a turtle

Local fisherman JinNam Hopotoa went spearfishing last Monday around the coastal areas of Alofi bay and he had an unique encounter with a very fragile-looking turtle. 

It’s not often that the people of Niue are able to have an encounter with a turtle due to its rarity. However, lucky JinNam was able to capture a video of this experience with the turtle and after posting his footage on social media the virality was endless. Some people have also named the turtle “Blessie”. 

JinNam says the name derives from his encounter with the turtle as a ‘blessing’. However, he personally has not come up with a name for the turtle. 

“I’ve always wanted to have a really good selfie with the turtle and I’ve attempted a few times with different turtles but this one was kinda different. This one was really special. I went up to it and I did a bit of an attempt and as I was holding the camera I could feel its pectoral fin just brush on my arm. So it’s really trusting in a way. So I decided to reach out and just sort of try and cuddle the shell and it just stayed there. Just establishing that trust with the turtle was really really good and was a super epic experience that’s for sure”, says JinNam. 

Yesterday afternoon BCN news asked JinNam to confirm from his video if the turtle was injured seeing that its neck had red blood-like markings. He reaffirmed saying that it was not injured nor was it blood but red-like moss. 

However, he did notice when the turtle was swimming towards the surface from the sea floor it looked a little restless and a quarter way of the turtle’s journey to the surface the turtle stopped and released bubbles from its mouth. 

JinNam said he realised this and swam towards the turtle to help it reach the surface for some air because he also noticed that the bubbles weren’t a good sign. 

After having a few warm exchanges with the turtle they both said their farewells. JinNam’s main message from his encounter was:

“We’re all interconnected and all part of a big ecosystem and to have the turtle come up like that to me just stresses the fact that they rely on us for help, we rely on them for help whether indirectly or directly. So we just have to look after each other and just keep the environment clean, keep the plastics out of the water cause that turtle might have some plastic inside of it which might have caused the reason for it to be that fatigued or lethargic in a way. So just look after the environment, look after our friends in the ocean and on land.”

JinNam hopes to go out spearfishing soon once weather permits and to meet his new-found friend Blessie the Turtle.

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