It’s leatherback nesting season on Juno Beach! We have been patrolling nightly since April 1 and our first leatherback encounter of the season was on April 4 around 1:30 am. She was a new female who we named Hanna in honor of Jack Hanna who was in town with his film crew to document the sea turtle rehabilitation and research at LMC. Since seeing Hanna we have encountered 11 more ladies during our nightly patrols. It is mid April and we already have 32 nests!
Three of the 12 turtles we have encountered have been new ladies! On April 7 we encountered a new female who we named Christine. She was the smallest leatherback we have seen so far, measuring only 140.5 cm in shell length.
LMC research technicians (left: Kim Rigano, right: Kate Fraser) collect diatom samples from Christine’s shell and skin using toothbrushes and seawater. Samples are collected while females are laying their clutch of eggs. Photo credits: Dr. Justin Perrault.
In addition to the new ladies, we have had some interesting remigrants! One of the most exciting remigrants was Pyxis. Of the turtles we have seen this season, she has been tagged the longest! Pyxis was originally tagged in 2003 and was last encountered in 2011. She has gotten pretty big, measuring 163 cm in shell length! She was very vocal during nesting; the nesting process is hard work, especially for such a big girl! Interestingly she also had some new scarring on her flipper and her shell on her right side, perhaps from entanglement with debris.
Left: Pyxis lays her clutch of eggs near the dune. Right: White scarring visible on Pyxis’s right shoulder. Photo credits: Christina Coppenrath.
Button was another interesting remigrant. She was originally tagged in 2010 and last encountered in 2016. She’s grown a little since we last saw her, now measuring 146.5 cm in shell length. Other remigrant ladies include Aussie (tagged in 2011), Charlotte (tagged in 2012), Copley (tagged in 2013), Iggy (tagged in 2014), and Wildfire (tagged in 2014). You can see some of their photos below. Be sure to look out for our updates as the season progresses!
Aussie takes a breath while she nests. Photo credit: Kate Fraser.
Button heading back to the water after 3 am. Photo credit: Kate Fraser.
Copley while she lays her clutch of eggs. Photo credit: Kate Fraser
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-18-205.