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Famous leatherbacks in Juno Beach

We had two famous turtles nest last week. Kelly Clarkson nested on April 21st around 1 am. Recently, the singer expressed her dream of becoming a marine biologist in an interview; thus, this turtle was named after her. She measured 143 cm in shell length.

Kelly Clarkson while she laid her clutch of eggs. Photo credit: Dr. Justin Perrault

 

Hanna, named in honor of Jack Hanna, nested again on April 22nd around 3 am. Our previous encounter with Hanna was on April 4th. Based on the amount of time between nests, it is likely that she nested again between these two encounters. Interestingly, Hanna has a split peduncle (see photo below). The peduncle is the rear-most part of the shell in leatherback turtles and Hanna’s split peduncle is unique.

Left: Hanna while she laid her clutch of eggs. Right: Hanna’s split peduncle. Photo credits: Kate Fraser.

 

Some other ladies that the night tagging team encountered last week include Montserrat, Samantha, and Star. Montserrat was originally tagged in 2009 and last encountered in 2011. She is the biggest we have seen in 2018. She measured 166.5 cm in shell length and was also approximately 10 cm wider than any turtle we have encountered this season. Samantha is another remigrant who was first tagged in 2003 and last encountered in 2016. She measured 156 cm in shell length.

Montserrat (left) and Samantha (right) while they laid their nests. Photo credits: Dr. Justin Perrault (left) and Kate Fraser (right).

 

Star was a new turtle that we encountered last week. She measured 151 cm in shell length. She was actually missing a whole hind limb but was still able to dig a great egg chamber.

Star while she was laying her clutch of eggs. Photo credits: Kate Fraser (left) and Kim Rigano (right).

 

Be sure to keep checking in for our leatherback project updates!

 

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.