Mid-Season Update

We’re fast approaching the peak of leatherback nesting and wanted to give you a quick update. We have encountered leatherbacks a total of 182 times. We often see the same individuals multiple times since leatherbacks return every 8-11 days and can nest up to 10-11 times each season! We have seen a total of 86 individuals. 28 of these were new, untagged turtles.

Volunteer Angelina checks the tags on Chelly, a turtle that we tagged in 2015.

Our most frequently seen turtle has been Kailani, our tracked turtle. Because of her transmitter, we’ve been able to see her each time she has emerged and we’ve seen her a total of seven times. The first turtle we encountered this year, Kristin, who was tagged in 2011, has been seen observed six times. Charlie (tagged in 2014), Gale Elizabeth (tagged in 2012), Jazmin (new this year), Leo (new this year), and Sangi (tagged in 2015) have been encountered five times each.

We have only been tagging leatherbacks along our survey stretch since 2014 so we don’t get a lot of older recaptures. However, our biologists used to tag turtles in Palm Beach County and we get quite a bit of exchange between the two counties. We’ve seen several of the old girls from several years ago that were tagged in Palm Beach County. Lucy nested this year. She was tagged in 2001, the first year tagging efforts began in the area. We also saw Libra who was tagged in 2002 and Windy who was tagged in 2003.

Button, one of our smaller turtles, emerging under a pretty night sky. Button is one of several turtles nesting this year that also nested last year. Nesting in consecutive years is not very common for leatherbacks.

Our biggest turtle of the year, Nerita, was tagged in 2005. Her carapace (shell) is 178 centimeters (5′ 9″) long! Our next largest turtle is one of our new turtles from this year, Leo. She is 168 centimeters long. Our smallest turtle is also one of our new girls, Astrid. She is 135 centimeters long. One of our neatest recaptures was a turtle we haven’t seen in 14 years! Shayna was tagged in 2005 and hasn’t been seen since. We’re curious where she’s been all these years. The other night we also saw Elizabeth, who hasn’t been seen since she was tagged 11 years ago in 2008.

We have a little over a month of leatherback nesting season remaining and it’s already a great year!

2 thoughts on “Mid-Season Update

  • I noticed that all the turtles that you observe were marked a long time ago. After 2015, there was not a single new individual? What is the reason?

    • Hi Eddie. We observed turtles that have been tagged at various times throughout the years. We have seen turtles this year that were tagged when research efforts started in this area in 2001 and we’ve tagged over 30 new turtles this year. We’ve seen quite a variety.

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