A Leatherback Nest!
Exciting news! Early Monday morning we received confirmation of our first Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) nest in Cocoa Beach.
- Leatherback sea turtles are protected as an endangered species.
- Leatherback sea turtles are black with blue, pink, and white splotches throughout the body.
- The leatherback sea turtle has a shell comprised of a thick layer of fatty tissue overlayed with a mosaic of tiny bones, and covered with a thin layer of skin.
- Leatherbacks average six feet in length and range of 500 to 1,500 pounds (Stewart and Johnson 2006).
- The leatherback sea turtle is the largest turtle in the world (NMFS and USFWS 1992).
- The leatherback’s diet primarily consists of jellyfish and salps (sac-like filter feeders).
- Nesting occurs on sandy beaches from late February and peaks in May; however, nests have been found as late as August (Stewart and Johnson 2006).
- The average clutch size is 73 yolked eggs and 25 yolkless eggs, also called “spacers”. The purpose of the spacers is unclear.
- The age of sexual maturity is poorly understood for this species (Stewart and Johnson 2006)
- Leatherbacks can be found in marine waters throughout the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
- Nesting in the United States usually occurs in Florida, Puerto Rico and St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands).