The nesting beaches have been packed this week as more and more turtles come to Juno to nest.  Have you checked the loggerhead nest numbers? It seems like all our sea turtles wanted to squeeze in another nest in time for Mother’s Day!  One of our most exciting encounters this week was with a leatherback named Costa.  This girl made us wait for her, coming up late in the morning.  Costa measured at 153 cm, or almost exactly five feet.  She is an old girl, who was first tagged while nesting on Juno Beach in 2003.  Costa is a very healthy sea turtle; her workup numbers were just about off the charts!  The data we collected indicate that she is getting a late start to the nesting season, and most likely just arrived in Juno Beach to nest.  We’ll watch for her return to confirm our thinking!

Costa nested near the full moon, making for great photos!

Our next leatherback was an early bird, who nested well before midnight.  Lacy is on the smaller side, only 146 cm (4.7 feet).  The LMC team first encountered her in 2009.  The researchers working the project that year described her as a ‘perfect turtle,’ and we happen to agree!  We’ve seen this frequent flyer nesting every two years on Juno Beach.  Her workup indicates that she is another very healthy leatherback.  She had one shiny flipper tag, indicating a recent encounter by another project.  We gave her another flipper tag to make a matching set and quickly left her to finish disguising her nest.

‘Perfect girl’ Lacy taking a break from covering her nest.

Our last leatherback for the week was another repeat nester, Gisli.  She selected a second nest site within a few hundred meters of the first.  Repeat nesters make for very interesting data, so we were very excited to see her again!  Our crew will keep patrolling the beaches looking for more returning leatherbacks, be sure to check back in to see which of our favorites return!

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.