It’s that time of year!

We’re so excited for the 2017 research season! There have been a handful of nests reported in and around our nightly survey area in the last three days. We are getting all of our gear prepared to start regular surveys this weekend. It takes a full army of ATVs and lots of Pelican cases full of equipment to do the work that we do. We will patrol approximately 25 miles of beach each night depending on the conditions. When we encounter a nesting leatherback, the first thing that we do is check for tags. We use metal flipper tags and a PIT tag (the same kind of microchip in dogs and cats) for identification. If she is tagged, which approximately 50% of the turtles that we encounter each year are, we will record her tags, measure her, and check her for any new injuries. If she is not tagged, we apply new tags and take a skin biopsy as well. The data we collect have answered countless questions about leatherback reproductive biology and population status. We have many years of history with some of these turtles and it’s always nice to see them return to nest. Leatherbacks typically nest every 2-3 years but occasionally many years will go by between visits. We are placing our bets on who we will see this year!

 

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