A close-up encounter with the world's largest sea turtle has thrilled local fishermen after a recent boat trip in Bundaberg waters.
Shaun Rissman was enjoying a day out with friends when he captured footage of a massive leatherback turtle as it swam by their boat.
“It was 10am and we were about 20 nautical miles north east of Burnett Heads when it happened,” he said.
“I first noticed the turtle when it came up for air so I grabbed the GoPro to start filming.
“It swam towards the boat and then took a sharp left turn and it disappeared again.”
According to the Department of Environment and Science, the endangered leatherback is the largest marine turtle in the world.
The species can weigh up to 900kg, can measure up to three metres and lives for more than 30 years.
Shaun estimated the turtle he encountered to be 1.5 metres or larger and said its sheer size made the other marine life trailing underneath look miniscule in comparison.
“It was hard to get an exact gauge on the size but it did make the fish with it look rather tiny,” he said.
“Most of the fish that were swimming underneath the turtle were remora… there was also a golden trevally there as well.”
Leatherback one of many local species
While the Bundaberg coastline is well known for its diverse turtle population, including flatbacks, loggerheads and green turtles, some may be surprised to learn the endangered leatherback also calls the region home.
The DES states the species occurs in tropical and temperate waters of Australia, with the most well-known nesting area at Wreck Rock in Deepwater National Park, north of Bundaberg.
Shaun said it was the first time he had come across a leatherback while fishing.
“We usually always see at least one sea turtle of other varieties during a trip but this turtle was by far the biggest we’ve ever seen,” he said.
“We were all amazed to actually see a different species of turtle and one that was so large.”
Whiplash Fishing shows off marine life
The footage of the turtle, along with other sea life encounters in local waters, has since been uploaded to the YouTube Channel called Whiplash Fishing.
Shaun said the channel was a project he and a few friends had put together to show off Bundaberg as a premier fishing destination.
“We’ve always done a little bit of video footage of our fishing trips and we just thought it might be cool to show people what’s in the Bundaberg Region, especially for those who aren’t able to go to the areas where we fish,” he said.
“Because making videos to upload is new to us, the ones we’ve got up so far may not be of the highest quality but it’s all about just getting different content out there at the moment.
“It’s not just about the fishing as there will be videos of other sea creatures we encounter out there too.”
“This year on our trips we’ve seen dolphins, sharks, turtles, large jellyfish, sea snakes, crabs and lots of whales – one day we saw about 30!”
You can check out the all of the fishing and marine life videos from Whiplash Fishing here.