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  • (intense music) - [Coyote] Alright guys

  • we got a good turtle out in front of us,

  • camera's rollin', this could be it.

  • - [Man] Dead through, dead through.

  • - [Coyote] I'm comin', I'm comin'.

  • (splashing) - Oh, oh.

  • (dramatic music)

  • (splashing)

  • - [Coyote] Australia's home to many reptilian species.

  • And while several of them are found within the confines

  • of the continent's interior,

  • beyond the tide you will find

  • one of the world's most cherished animals,

  • the green sea turtle.

  • In the past I've had the chance to swim alongside

  • these elegant and timeless beings,

  • yet strict regulations prohibit anyone

  • from making physical contact with these reptiles.

  • However on this adventure, that is all about to change.

  • (dramatic music)

  • Today the crew and I are heading off the coast of Bowen,

  • a small town situated at the top of the Whitsundays

  • on the Eastern side of Queensland.

  • Under the invitation of the World Wildlife Fund,

  • we will be given the chance to work alongside

  • the traditional owner rangers from Guru and Bindile People.

  • These rangers take responsibility for the management

  • and protection of their sea country,

  • including iconic species like the green sea turtle.

  • Their work includes (splashing)

  • safely catching, collecting data,

  • and tagging these magnificent marine reptiles

  • so scientists can then determine

  • what is happening to the turtle population

  • and ensure that the species is continuing

  • to thrive in these warm waters.

  • - And as a very order Gudjuda Elder,

  • I'd like to welcome you to the country

  • and hope yous have a good day.

  • (chattering)

  • - [Mark] Coyote, what's goin' on?

  • - I'm doin' a smoke ceremony right now

  • and the flames are just welcoming us

  • into this community. - That's what the flames will.

  • - [Coyote] I consider myself to be an expert

  • when it comes to catching turtles.

  • And my method of leaping from kayaks

  • to catch snapping turtles has often proven

  • to be incredibly successful.

  • (dramatic music)

  • Catching sea turtles however, is a very different challenge.

  • (splashing)

  • As compared to snapping turtles,

  • these ocean dwelling reptiles are incredibly fast.

  • And instead of leaping feet first from a slow rowing kayak,

  • I will be jumping from a speeding boat.

  • The good news is that I will be apprenticing a man

  • who I now consider to be the greatest turtle catcher

  • of all time, Aaron Taiters.

  • He will be showing me the tricks of the trade

  • that he has spent several years mastering

  • and which have resulted in the safe capture,

  • data collection, tagging,

  • and release for hundreds of sea turtles.

  • (dramatic music)

  • So what are you lookin' for Aaron?

  • You lookin' for shadows in the water?

  • - Yeah, we're lookin' for sort of a dark brown figure.

  • - [Coyote] Okay.

  • - We'll see the turtle shells sit still

  • or they'll make a move for it.

  • The moment they move, we tell Eddie,

  • "Yep, he's off to the right."

  • And that's how we'll catch him then.

  • - [Coyote] Gotcha.

  • Yeah that's kind of the same way

  • I search for snapping turtles.

  • I look for a dark shadow beneath the surface,

  • wait for it to start movin',

  • I know it's not a rock, and then you make your go.

  • - [Aaron] Yep.

  • Sometimes you will get confused

  • because there's a lot of sting ray around here.

  • Before you see it as a turtle,

  • just make sure you see his flippers first

  • - Got it. - And then you just

  • start chasing.

  • (dramatic music)

  • - [Man Over Radio] Gudjuda One, Gudjuda One,

  • this is little Got Gunger, any turtles sighted yet?

  • - [Man] Not yet but we're working on it.

  • We'll keep you posted.

  • - [Man Over Radio] Rodger that, over and out.

  • (beeping)

  • (dramatic music)

  • - [Aaron] There he is there to the right.

  • - [Coyote] Oh got a turtle to our right here.

  • He's just in front of us. - I think he's goin' left.

  • - He's swimmin' really quick.

  • Goin' left.

  • Upon spotting several smaller turtles

  • and witnessing their impressive speed,

  • I quickly realized that catching a sea turtle

  • was going to be much more difficult

  • than I had originally anticipated.

  • There's a big turtle here, big one, big one.

  • - [Man] Go, go.

  • (splashing)

  • (groaning) (splashing)

  • - Yes. (cheering)

  • (laughing) Nice catch.

  • Oh, that was a rough miss.

  • But the good news is that Aaron was right there

  • to follow up with an epic dive and successful catch.

  • Boy does he make it look easy.

  • (yelling)

  • And I had his front flipper in my hand.

  • - [Aaron] Yeah I thought I saw that.

  • - [Coyote] I had his flipper.

  • - [Aaron] I said that, I said, "He's got it in your hand."

  • (yelling) And he's just off cruising.

  • - Well great catch again Aaron.

  • (laughing)

  • That was epic, alright.

  • I was so close, that was the one.

  • I had the entire flipper in my hand

  • and it went whoop, right out.

  • And I tried to grab the back of the shell,

  • couldn't do it, but at least we caught the turtle,

  • let's get it onto the research boat,

  • get the biometrics, keep at it.

  • As a team our rate of success was fantastic.

  • Yet my personal performance was lackluster at best.

  • I could feel that my confidence for catching sea turtles

  • was beginning to sink.

  • Yet Aaron being the incredible mentor that he was,

  • continued to encourage and critique my style.

  • - You see that one? - Yeah I see him.

  • - [Man] Get out now fast first.

  • (splashing)

  • - Great TV.

  • (chattering)

  • - [Mark] Did you get a brown?

  • (sighing) - Okay.

  • - [Mark] It's harder than it looks, folks.

  • - Man, it was the same thing before.

  • I was not in front of the turtle.

  • Time was running out and my widow to land a giant,

  • was beginning to close.

  • When the boat slowly motored into a clear stretch of water

  • that revealed a massive dark shadow beneath the surface.

  • Alright guys we got a good turtle out in front of us.

  • Camera's rollin', this could be it.

  • This was it, the pressure was on,

  • and I would only have one dive,

  • one chance to catch this turtle.

  • - [Aaron] You see him right there now?

  • - [Coyote] Yep, yep, yep.

  • There, right there.

  • Aaron kept his sights locked on the speeding reptile,

  • waiting for an opportune moment

  • when it would slow it's forward momentum

  • and prepare to breach the surface for a breath of air.

  • This would be my window of opportunity

  • and in that instance, he shouted the command.

  • - [Aaron] Dead through, dead through.

  • (splashing)

  • - [Mark] Missed it. Oh, oh.

  • (chattering)

  • - [Aaron] I got it.

  • (splashing)

  • (triumphant music)

  • - [Coyote] Right there I was able to catch that.

  • (cheering)

  • Oh, careful, careful.

  • (cheering)

  • Caught a turtle. (laughing)

  • Now did that feel good.

  • (cheering)

  • Yeah, I jumped, grabbed the back of the shell.

  • (cheering)

  • Man, that is a good sized turtle right there.

  • Without question, the biggest turtle I have ever caught.

  • (laughing)

  • Man. (cheering)

  • Oh, I told you guys I'd do it.

  • (laughing) (cheering)

  • - Oh nice. - He is a big one.

  • - That's a male. - Look at the tail.

  • - Yeah that's a male. (cheering)

  • Look at that tale.

  • (laughing) - Oh man.

  • - My goodness. - That's a dragon's tail.

  • (cheering)

  • Yes, yes.

  • (cheering)

  • That's my dragon right there. (laughing)

  • Man. (laughing)

  • Best turtle catch ever of my life at least.

  • (cheering)

  • Alright guys we gotta get the rest of our gear,

  • get onto the research boat, get the biometrics,

  • and then release this dragon back into the wild.

  • Yes. - Yes.

  • - I hope I caught all that on this camera.

  • Wow.

  • (splashing)

  • (chattering)

  • Alright guys well there we have it,

  • there is the green sea turtle that I landed.

  • And he is an absolute giant.

  • This is the first male of the trip

  • that we have caught, an absolute beast.

  • Can you guys believe this?

  • - [Mark] I can't believe you caught it.

  • That was an amazing catch. - What a catch.

  • Well when I jumped into the water

  • I kind of went to the side,

  • I grabbed the side of it's shell,

  • my hands slid down, I held onto the back of the shell

  • and actually climbed up the side of it

  • to get right behind the back of the carapace.

  • And you can see how healthy this turtle is.

  • Look at, it is actually spilling out of it's shell.

  • I know buddy.

  • Now let's take a look at the carapace of this reptile.

  • It is massive and I love this teardrop shape, you see that?

  • This allows these turtles to stay completely streamlined

  • when they're swimming under the water.

  • If you take a look here, look at the size

  • of this turtle's tail.

  • Just like a snapping turtle,

  • male green sea turtles have an extremely long tail,

  • look at that.

  • As long and as big around as my arm is.

  • An absolute dragon tail right there.

  • Now you hear the name green sea turtle

  • and you may be thinking to yourselves,

  • "Well, Coyote, it's mostly brown in coloration.

  • "Why do they call it a green sea turtle?"

  • That name comes from a thick layer of green fat

  • that exists just beneath the bone of the carapace

  • that insulates them between the bone

  • and all of their main organs.

  • I know buddy, you just wanna get back

  • out there into the ocean, don't you?

  • Now this guy's just fine, don't worry.

  • Sea turtles can stay out of the water

  • for an extended period of time.

  • (sighs) What a beautiful turtle.

  • Look at those eyes.

  • Such kind, intelligent eyes.

  • And you may notice that the turtles eyes are very wet,

  • almost looks like it's crying.

  • It's not crying, all turtles are capable

  • of secreting a mucus from their eye membrane

  • to help keep their eyes wet when they're out of the water.

  • This goes for all turtles,

  • painted turtles, snapping turtles, spiny soft shells,

  • even sea turtles have the ability to secrete that mucus.

  • Now you'll notice the beak of this reptile is not hooked.

  • Because unlike a snapping turtle,