We found eight more leatherbacks last night in what turned out to be a really fun night on the beach. Busy turtle nights always keep us awake. They kept Liz awake at least. The turtles seemed to be concentrated on the south stretch where she was surveying since she found 7 of the 8. She started the night with a new turtle and ended up with two more new girls later on. So we now have Annette, Marilyn, and Dumpling – a teeny tiny turtle measuring just 138 cm long. Well, teeny tiny for leatherback standards. Valerie found her only turtle of the night just after midnight – a new turtle from earlier this year that was first tagged in March. Liz also found one of our recent new girls, Zeina and then a turtle that was originally tagged in 2012 but not yet encountered this year. She wrapped up the night with another turtle that we recently tagged named Turino. So in total, 6 of the 8 turtles we encountered last night were new to the beaches this year and 3 of them were encountered for the very first time.
In other good news – our good friend and fellow researcher, Dean, from the University of Central Florida let us know that long-time Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge nester, China Girl, has returned yet again! China Girl was tagged 22 years ago in 1994 and was the first south Florida leatherback to ever get fitted with a satellite transmitter. She, along with many turtles that we’ve tracked since then, helped us better understand where leatherbacks go after leaving the nesting beach. Like clockwork, China Girl regularly returns to the Carr Refuge to nest and they’ve now documented over 40 encounters with her. We’re thrilled to hear that she’s back and we always look forward to these updates from the UCF crew surveying at the Carr Refuge.