Meteors, and rockets, and turtles — oh my!

Last night sure was an exciting night on Juno Beach!  Did anyone else catch a glimpse of the meteor shower?  Those meteors sure provided a gorgeous backdrop for our drive on the beach last night.  And how about that space shuttle launch?!  Our surveyors had a great view from the beach at around 1 am when the rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Center!  Did I mention that we had SIX leatherbacks emerge on Juno last night too?!

Three of our turtles were veteran nesters.  Althea was spotted just south of LMC at around 11 pm.  She was already finished with her nest, but biologists were able to scan her for a PIT tag (microchip) so we could confirm her identity.  Althea was first tagged on Juno beach in 2009; she nested three times that year, and three times in 2012.  We hope that Althea will return to Juno again in a couple of weeks so that we can sample her.  Meanwhile, at around the same time on north Juno Beach, Buttercup was busy laying a nest of her own!  Buttercup has only been seen one other time by LMC biologists, in 2012.  We are happy that we encountered her again.  Shortly after 1 am, Gladys emerged on south Juno Beach.  Gladys was also only encountered once before by LMC biologists in 2012.  Gladys actually false crawled (emerged but did not lay a nest) prior to laying her nest last night, so researchers were relieved when she nested on her second emergence of the night.  False crawls are quite rare for leatherback turtles, but they do happen sometimes!

LMC biologists encountered two untagged female leatherbacks last night.  Just after midnight, Marilyn was spotted by our researchers.  At just 141 cm in length, she is the smallest leatherback that we have encountered so far this season.  The last turtle of the night was Rosaline, who emerged at around 3:30 am on south Juno Beach.  Both Marilyn and Rosaline were given their own unique set of flipper tags and a PIT tag so that researchers can identify them if they are encountered again.  Will they come back to Juno in a couple of weeks?  We sure hope so!

Unfortunately, our surveyors missed one leatherback that nested on north Juno Beach due to sampling other leatherbacks.  However, we are still happy that we were able to sample five other turtles last night!

On Tuesday night, researchers encountered just one leatherback named Beverly.  Beverly is no stranger to our beaches; she was first tagged by LMC biologists in 2005, nested once more in 2007, and nested three times in 2013.  Beverly was a healthy turtle and we hope to see her again in a couple of weeks.