Sweet Sixteen

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night brought in 16 turtles. We had a pretty good mixture of old and new faces. There were five turtles each on Friday and Saturday night and six more last night. Friday night we saw two turtles that were tagged in 2011 and 2012. Parker, one of our girls from 2014 and a pretty regular nester came back again too. We also had a new turtle from earlier this year that false crawled twice throughout the night. Thankfully, she came back Saturday night and nested successfully. Both she and Kaysie, a turtle from 2010, nested very early in the night on Saturday. We had one more new girl from earlier this year – Turino. Caitlin and I found her at our meeting point in the middle of the beach. Caitlin stayed to work her up while I continued down the beach. She let me know when Turino was done laying eggs and left her to continue down the beach. So I was quite surprised when I came back to the mid-point and found Turino just about done digging an egg chamber. She has moved a few feet from where she had already laid a full clutch of eggs and was now digging again. She finished the chamber, laid there for about 15 minutes as if she was laying eggs, and then began to cover it up without laying any additional eggs. Very strange! We’ve seen similar “confused” behaviors throughout the years so it’s not too alarming and Turino made it back water safely after covering her second chamber. We also found Auri, a turtle we tagged in 2014. She was a lucky find! We were not able to PIT tag Auri in 2014 so she only received flipper tags. Flipper tag retention in leatherbacks is not great and they often fall out after a couple years. Thankfully, Auri still had one of her flipper tags so we were able to identify her. She got a new flipper tag and a PIT tag so we’ll always know who she is now. PIT tags are a more permanent form of identification than flipper tags. We also took a small skin biopsy that we use for genetic analysis. We wrapped up the night with a brand new turtle that we named Karana. The name was suggested a couple months ago by someone visiting our booth at Gumbo Limbo’s Sea Turtle Day.

Last night was another fun one. We saw three new girls from earlier this year. Milan, tagged back in March, has been encountered every 10 days on this same stretch since we tagged her. Last night was her 5th encounter. We also saw Estrella for the 5th time this year. She was tagged in 2014. One more new turtle and very tiny turtle from earlier in the year and two turtles tagged in 2009 and 2012 made for a busy and fun night.

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