Leatherback Nesting Season Week 10: The Penultimate Week

The second to last week of the night crew’s 2019 leatherback season is complete. Even though the calendar says their season should be winding down, the turtles definitely did not receive that message. We encountered 10 leatherbacks, bringing our total number of sampled females to 92, and we have seen all but two of them since the season began on April 1st.

Yarah laying her clutch. (Photo: Derek Aoki)

The two new nesters to our night team were the 150.6 cm (4.9 ft.) Vita, and Capri, 142.5 cm (4.7 ft.) and first tagged in 2010, which happened to be the last time we have seen her on our beach.

Lucy’s unintentional boat strike injuries, seen for the second time. Due to the amount of sand on her carapace, its difficult to really compare the two images, however it appears her lacerations are healing!! *Disclaimer: flash photography is only permitted under LMC’s permit FWC MTP-19-205. Otherwise it is never allowed to use flash or white light on sea turtles. (Photo: Derek Aoki)

This week was full of surprises and special turtles. Mac, a 143 cm (4.6 ft.) female, was the daytime nester who appeared the other week on Juno Beach. Lucy is another special turtle because we saw her with a fairly deep unintentional boat strike injury and we were to see ‘inside’ of her carapace. But she’s a resilient one, shook off her injuries, and continues to nest!!

Night Techs Kate Fraser and Derek Aoki work up Mac. (Photo: Heather Seaman)
Agave, all settled in her body pit and covering her nest. (Photo: Derek Aoki)

Two specific turtles that we saw this week hold a special meaning for both LMC Night Techs. The 143.8 cm (4.7 ft.) Agave was caught by our night crew for the second time, and she was the first leatherback ever encountered by Tech Derek Aoki!! Gisli, a 154.1 cm (5 ft.) mama, also re-appeared for the second time this season and was the first ever turtle seen by Kate Fraser back in 2017!! As you can see below, she has accumulated an extreme amount of barnacles since her last encounter.

The remaining turtles we saw were Yarah (140.9 cm/4.6 ft.), Madonna (143.9 cm/4.7 ft.), Katia (not measured), and Andrea (155.5 cm/5.1 ft.).

That’s all for the penultimate week of the leatherback nesting season. Come back next week for info on our last week of leatherback night work. However, as seen by these green turtles, the full nesting season is far from over.

Two green turtles mating as the female crawls back to the sea. (Photo: 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-19-205.