Rare leatherback nests again on Sanibel
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that Juniper, a rare leatherback sea turtle, returned to the islands’ shores on May 28 and nested again.
The SCCF sea turtle team and the Florida Leatherbacks Inc. team estimate that she may have laid a total of eight nests so far, with some nests prior to when beach monitoring began on April 1.
“We really have no idea if Juniper’s other nests are on our beaches or somewhere else,” SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan said. “We just suspect there are more based on the timing.”
The first nest of the season documented by the Florida Leatherbacks was on Feb. 6 on the east coast, making it the earliest on record for a leatherback in the state. FLI research shows that leatherbacks return every eight to 11 days and can nest up to 10 to 11 times a season, so Juniper could nest again.
Leatherbacks very rarely nest on the Gulf coast as they prefer Southeast Florida beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Biologists with FLI also returned to Sanibel for the nesting on May 28 and checked on Juniper’s satellite transmitter to make sure it is well adhered.
Sloan coordinated with Chris Johnson and Kelly Martin, with FLI, who have now traveled over from their home-base in Palm Beach Gardens several times.
To follow Juniper’s travels, visit www.trackturtles.com.