Guarded by Gisli

The leatherbacks are here in full force!  We’ve had some busy nights out on Juno Beach.  We added a new girl, Lorna, to our nesting database this week.  We found this untagged leatherback just as she was digging her egg chamber on Juno Beach.  She was small, measuring only a little more than 4.5 ft (141cm).  We collected our samples, gave her a brand new sparkly set of flipper tags and sent her on her way.  Hopefully we’ll see her nesting again in 8-10 days!

Skittle putting the finishing touches on her nest by front flipper covering

Last night we had to work double time to sample our two nesting females.  First, we encountered Skittle as she was finishing laying on Juno Beach.  She is 149 cm long, and was first tagged in 2013.  Skittle nested at the edge of a steep scarp, and had a meandering covering technique that lead her to crawl quite a way towards the dunes before returning to the ocean.  After Skittle, we found Gisli nesting to the north on Jupiter Beach.  This big, old girl is 153 cm long, and was originally tagged in 2009 when she was encountered as a day time nester. She has since been sighted multiple times in 2011 and 2013, so we’ll be watching for her return as the season continues.  Gisli decided to nest next to a life guard sign, which, if it deters foot traffic over the egg chamber, will improve the hatching success rate of the nest.

Gisli covering her nest.

Disclaimer: All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles. Images were acquired while conducting authorized research activities pursuant to FWC MTP-17-211.