Leatherback Spotlight: “Aussie”

A nesting leatherback, "Aussie" laid her nest on Juno Beach on April 1, 2020.
A nesting leatherback, “Aussie” laid her nest on Juno Beach on April 1, 2020.

Each night during sea turtle nesting season, a team of our researchers patrol our 9.5-mile stretch of beach for nesting sea turtles. Since leatherback sea turtles nest at the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in South Florida, our researchers focus on these turtles for the first few weeks.

Our night survey team documented the first leatherback nest at the end of February and has since marked 76 leatherback nests. As our researchers encounter the turtles, they will share their experiences through our Leatherback Blog, which highlights our nighttime survey teams work on The Leatherback Project.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Leatherback Project! On March 31, our research team found no better way to commemorate this milestone than by kicking off its first nightly patrol of this year’s nesting season.

To our team’s surprise, they encountered three leatherback sea turtles on their first night. Two of the turtles were neophytes, meaning the turtles did not have any tags, and one was a returning, tagged visitor who goes by the name of “Aussie.”

Originally tagged on April 3, 2011, Aussie has continued to nest on our local South Florida beaches throughout the past decade. Our team has seen Aussie on our local beaches 10 times since her first nesting event nearly a decade ago.

An average size for a leatherback sea turtle, Aussie’s carapace length measures 152 centimeters (60 inches). Additionally, she has been included in numerous research studies surrounding genetics, health, toxicology, and so on.

This year, our researchers are documenting injuries on all of our nesting turtles for a larger research study. Interestingly, Aussie arrived on Juno Beach shores with new injuries to her right front flipper where approximately 25% of the area was missing. We believe this was caused by a predator – most likely a tiger shark.

While our research team is hard at work protecting and monitoring our local population of nesting sea turtles, they will provide updates through our weekly blog posts.


If you discover a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle, please call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (*FWC) or LMC’s Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline at 561-603-0211.


One Mission. At Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) we strive to be industry leaders in sea turtle and ocean conservation. Our work is focused on four core pillars, each focused on demonstrating measurable impact. Our team researches and conserves sea turtles, because sea turtles tell us the health of the ocean, which in turn tells us the health of our planet. These critical indicator species serve as our global ambassadors for ocean conservation. In this blog, we invite you to dive into the depths of ocean conservation and explore our research efforts.

Our PhD lead research biologists monitor one of the most densely nested loggerhead sea turtle beaches in the world. Through our comprehensive datasets and innovative studies, we are able to determine threats affecting the health of our sea turtles, oceans and ultimately us. Our research and datasets are invaluable not only to scientists, but also to local, national and international coastal managers. Donate to propel our mission and save sea turtles at: marinelife.org/onemission.


Media Contact:

Lauren Eissey

Public Relations and Engagement Specialist

561-627-8280, x124