Last night marked our last night of the season surveying for leatherback turtles. It is bittersweet; we will miss seeing these beautiful animals each night but we could all use a suntan! While we did not see any leatherbacks on our last couple of surveys, we have had quite a successful season this year and are excited to share some highlights with you…
- Our team had a 68% success rate in encountering leatherbacks on Juno Beach this year.
- The largest turtle we encountered was Nerita; she was 179.9 cm in length!
- The smallest turtle our team documented was Marilyn; she was just 141.3 cm long.
- The most turtles we documented in a single night was six. This occurred on the night of May 5 when Buttercup, Althea, Marilyn, Gladys, and Rosaline all nested on Juno Beach. We even missed a leatherback because we were so busy with the others!
- The most times we saw a single turtle this year was three. There were actually four turtles that were spotted three times by our team: Shaula, Nerita, Waverley, and Cinderella.
- The “most improved” turtle award goes to Clinton, who was first encountered and tagged on April 27 with fishing line and rope tangled around one of her flippers. Our team managed to remove some of the line, but it was embedded deeply into the turtle’s flipper. The turtle was seen again by fellow biologists at Florida Leatherbacks, Inc. who removed the rest of the line. Our team spotted Clinton again on June 5 and she was using her flipper just fine! We hope she makes a full recovery from her injury.
The Leatherback Project was funded in part by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org.
The Leatherback Project is anticipated to continue during the 2017 leatherback season. We will likely begin surveys in early March and continue through mid-June, which is when leatherback nesting tapers off. Thanks to everyone for following our blog and supporting The Leatherback Project this year! See you next March!