Stella the Leatherback

After the release Dr. Innis and I decided to get some rest. But, we had heard that there was some nesting of leatherbacks on beaches further south. We definately wanted to check that out. Charlie found out a colleague, Dr. Mette was not at the International Sea Turtle Symposium so he gave her a call and indeed they have had nesting leatherbacks and she invited us down to catch up and possibly see a nesting turtle.

Dr. Mette is the veterinarian for both The Loggerhead Marine Life Center and The Gumbo Limbo Nature Preserve. Many of you may remember her and those facilities form our posts after the giant Florida cold-stun event in January of 2010. For those newer to the blog check out the information here.

Dr. Mette has a pretty intense case load of turtles right now. Two of her patients you can see in the photos above. To the left is a green turtle with a prop strike and to the right is a palm sized hawksbill. Both turtles are undergoing therapy at the Marine Life Center. Yes I did want to pocket the hawksbill and bring it back to the New England Aquarium.

After hearing some amazing stories of the turtles at the Marine Life Center we went and had dinner and waited for the call from the beach team. We had finished dinner and catching up and still no call. So Dr. Innis and myself decided to start walking the beach. We got to the half way mark and no turtles. So we started back. We got the call at abuot 11:30 p.m. saying they had a nesting turtle and that Chris would come and pick us up. Of course the turtle was on the other side of the beach about 8 miles away. So Charlie and I found the nearest beach exit and started towards them. Chris picked us up in the van and off we went.

Above is Stella. Some of the pictures are blurry because we do not use a flash while the turtle is nesting. Although, they do enter a sort of trance like state they nesting turtles can be disturbed so if you are lucky enough to see a nesting turtle and have a camera make sure your flash is off.

They knew which turtle she was because of the tags on her rear flippers and the PIT tag in her front flipper. Stella also had a hook stuck in her right shoulder.
That little blurry object in the middle of her shoulder was a fishing lure.

After she had completed her nesting and was starting to cover her eggs. Dr. Innis got to work on getting the hook out. Chris had a dehooking kit with him and using that we were able to easily get the hook out.

After quite a while of covering her nest stella unceremoniously headed back to the ocean.

Above is Stella's tracks leading to the ocean.

A special heartfelt thanks to the beach team for putting up with us and getting us to a turtle. Words can not describe how awesome that was!

Now back to the hotel (it was about 1:30 a.m.) a little sleep and home to Quincy.



  1. Wow, thanks! Being able to see and read from your experience- priceless!

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and it was really very good step.

  3. Thank you for saving another beautiful and endangered Leatherback turtle!