Leatherback turtle hunting in Kei, Indonesia


Kei Archipelago: The end of 2008 saw one last trip for the Scubazoo team. In November Scubazoo underwater photographer Jason Isley and underwater cameraman Chris Tan headed to the Kei Archipelago in Eastern Indonesia to get HD footage and photos of the rare and endangered leatherback turtle.

Scubazoo had carried out two previous Leatherback filming trips, one to Irian Jaya to shoot video footage of nesting female leatherback turtles and leatherback hatchlings and another to visit a leatherback turtle conservation project in Papua New Guinea. This time though the focus of the trip was to document the leatherback turtles feeding on jellyfish, which appear seasonally in Kei’s waters. Jason and Chris also planned to shoot photos and video of locals hunting the endangered Leatherbacks for food which is a tradition in Kei.

Traveling through Indonesia is never simple and the trip to Kei was an arduous 3 day journey.  On arrival it became obvious to both Jason and Chris that the conditions of the two week shoot were going to be very hard. The “dive vessel” was a small dug-out canoe with a tiny outboard motor mounted on the back, with no shelter from either sun or rain, while accommodation was in the spare room of the local village chief’s house. The boys existed on a basic diet of instant noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While Jason and Chris were disappointed not to see any feeding behaviour over the course of the two weeks, they were on hand to film and photograph a dramatic sequence of natives using traditional methods to hunt and capture a leatherback turtle. They also captured some rare high definition underwater footage of the Leatherback turtles surfacing for air and swimming underwater.

Jason wrote and provided images for articles on the Leatherback hunt in Scuba Diver Australasia, Asian Geographic and DIVE UK. Take a look at some of the photos and watch the video below.

Preview and License high definition Leatherback turtle footage from our online stock footage library.

Preview and License Leatherback turtle photos from our online stock photo library.

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